TRILLO METALS CANTERBURY WOMEN’S SQUAD ANNOUNCED FOR NZRL PREMIERSHIP
The Trillo Metals Canterbury Women’s squad has been named for the upcoming NZRL National Premiership, which gets underway on September 2.
The competition returns to its usual post-season place on the calendar after being held in March-April in 2022 in the wake of two COVID-interrupted rep seasons. Canterbury’s most recent assignment was last September, taking out the Mary Brennan Trophy as winners of the South Island Women’s Championship.
“The group’s really looking forward to it. We’ve got enough for two teams, so we’re going to send a Canterbury A team to the South Island tournament and the top team will play in the (National) Premiership,” Trillo Metals Canterbury Women’s coach Te Wairau explains.
Wairau, who took the reins of the provincial side in 2021, says the growth in Canterbury Rugby League’s girls youth competitions has had a noticeable flow-on affect to the game at senior level.
“There’s been great development, some new, young players are coming through. When I first took over there wasn’t too many (youth) teams, but now we’ve got 14s, 16s, 18s and now our Canterbury A and Premiership team.
“You can see the skill level of the young players (is improved). When I started, we stripped things back to the basics, helping out with their skill level. But now the young ones are coming through with a lot more confidence.”
There’s no shortage of experience in the Trillo Metals Canterbury Women’s ranks, with Kiwi Ferns reps Sui Pauaraisa and Bunty Kuruwaka-Crowe, Woolston Rams stalwart Fleur Barker and player of the 2022 South Island Championships Cassie Siataga backing up for another campaign.
But Wairau has heralded the injection of impressive young talent – including the likes of Kyla Lynch-Brown and Manea-Faith Waaka, who represented the New Zealand Ahi Ka Aotearoa under-19s team that competed in the Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships in Australia earlier this year – as being a standout feature of this Canterbury squad.
“The new players as part of this Canterbury campaign have really impressed us, it’s been great,” Wairau enthuses.
Eighteen of the 25-strong squad are set to play in Sunday’s CRL Women’s Premiership Grand Final at Ngā Puna Wai.
Nine Linwood Keas players and eight Sydenham Swans stars will put their representative camaraderie to one side in what shapes as a gripping decider – but one that will provide the bulk of the Trillo Metals Canterbury Women’s team with ideal preparation for the intensity of the NZRL National Premiership, which commences just two weeks later.
“It’s going to be great to see if our players in the Canterbury squad apply the skills we’ve been working on, and then keep working on that (before the premiership),” the coach says.
The Trillo Metals Canterbury Women’s team opens their campaign against Counties Manukau Stingrays at Ngā Puna Wai on Saturday, September 2.
They then play Mid Central Vipers at home (September 10) and Wellington away (September 16), with a semi-final berth in the six-team, two-pool competition the minimum aim. Wairau is acutely aware of the massive challenge the Stingrays present first-up after facing them in the opening round of the 2022 Premiership.
“(Last year’s match) was a massive improvement from last time we played Counties and we’re expecting a big game, a fast game, and we’re working to get to a level where we can compete.
“We’re always looking to try and be the best, but we’re looking to get if not the number one position in our pool, then to qualify for the semis (in second position).”
2023 TRILLO METALS CANTERBURY WOMEN’S SQUAD
Cassie Siataga (Woolston Rams)
Kyla Lynch-Brown (Sydenham Swans)
Kaylee Tavendale (Sydenham Swans)
Rebecca Perrett (Eastern Eagles)
Hannah Parsons (Linwood Keas)
Caitlin Sears (Sydenham Swans)
Janaya Mata (Sydenham Swans)
Bunty Kuruwaka-Crowe (Sydenham Swans)
Usipua Togiaso (Sydenham Swans)
Harmony Simailie (Sydenham Swans)
Peleoaiga Loto (Linwood Keas)
Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa Pauaraisa (Linwood Keas)
Eilish Ramsden (Linwood Keas)
Terauoriwa Gapper (Linwood Keas)
Christine Farlow (Eastern Eagles)
Kaleisha Jones (Linwood Keas)
Karita Agafili (Sydenham Swans)
Manea-Faith Waaka (Sydenham Swans)
Sailiai Pau (Linwood Keas)
Shade McGregor-Pakau (Woolston Rams)
Gloria Su’a (Linwood Keas)
Madison Barclay (Linwood Keas)
Sherrane Maui (Burnham Chevaliers)
Avau Valintina Filimaua (Eastern Eagles)
Fleur Barker (Woolston Rams)