Rugby: Blues, Chiefs announce squads for inaugural women's Super Rugby clash

  • 14/04/2021

The Blues and Chiefs have announced their squads for their historic women's Super Rugby clash next month.

On May 1, the teams will square off as part of a doubleheader with their male counterparts at Eden Park, breaking new ground on the road to establishing a permanent Super Rugby women's competition.

Led by Black Ferns captain Eloise Blackwell, the Blues squad features a wealth of international experience, highlighted by Patricia Malepio, Lisa Molia, and Krystal Murray, alongside Black Ferns Sevens player Hayley Hutana.

The team will be coached by Willie Walker, assisted by Northland Farah Palmer Cup coach Cheryl Smith and Black Ferns legend Anna Richards.

The Chiefs squad also boasts plenty of international talent, including Chelsea Alley and former Black Ferns captain Les Elder, who's working her way back after maternity leave.

Chiefs head coach Chad Sheperd - who'll be assisted by Taranaki's Latoya Mason and Waikato's James Semple - is pleased with the balance his squad have struck between experience and rising talent.

"As a coaching group, we are really pleased with the squad we have selected for this historic occasion," says Sheperd. "Our Black Ferns players provide great leadership among an exciting group of young talented players, who have broken onto the scene during last year’s Farah Palmer Cup."

The Chiefs' captain has yet to be confirmed.

Blues coach Walker hopes the match can pave the way for an annual women's Super Rugby tournament and further develop an area where he believes NZ rugby has fallen behind.

"The growth of women’s rugby around the world has been remarkable and while New Zealand has led the way in terms of development of players, we are now playing a bit of catch-up with the professional game," says Walker.

"This is a great opportunity to further push the profile of the women's game, with New Zealand to host the Rugby World Cup in this country next year. Hopefully, this match will help push national selections for some players and further raise the profile of women's rugby in New Zealand.

"Hopefully, this can lead to a full-time professional competition next year and develop a pathway for our young players. It's massively exciting and a privilege to be part of."

The match will kick off at 4:35pm, with the men's game to begin at 7pm.

Blues squad: Saphire Abraham (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Shannon Leota (Auckland), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Liana Mikaele-Tu'u (Auckland), Lisa Molia (Auckland), Aleisha Nelson (Auckland), Cilia-Marie Po'e (Auckland), Maia Roos (Auckland), Cristo Tofa (Auckland), Tenaija Fletcher (North Harbour), Kate Williams (North Harbour), Krystal Murray (Northland), TK Ngata Aerengamate (Northland) Sylvia Brunt (Auckland), Moana Cook (Auckland), Ruahei Demant (Auckland), Princess Elliot (Auckland), Patricia Maleipo (Auckland), Natahlia Moors (Auckland), Daynah Nankivell (Auckland), Luisa Togotogorua (Auckland), Hayley Hutana (North Harbour), Tyler Nankivell (Northland) Stacey Tupe (Northland)

Chiefs squad: Angel Mulu (Bay of Plenty), Ariana Bayler (Waikato), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau), Chelsea Alley (Waikato), Chyna Hohepa (Waikato), Emily Kitson (Counties Manukau), Grace Houpapa-Barrett (Waikato), Harono Te Iringa (Counties Manukau), Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau), Iritana Hohiaia (Taranaki), JayJay Taylor (Bay of Plenty), Kelsey Teneti (Waikato), Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty), Kendra Reynolds (Bay of Plenty), Kennedy Simon (Waikato), Langi Veainu (Counties Manukau), Les Elder (Bay of Plenty), Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty), Mia Anderson (Waikato), Ngatokotoru Arakua (Counties Manukau), Paige Neilson (Taranaki), Pia Tapsell (Bay of Plenty), Rebecca Burch (Counties Manukau), Renee Holmes (Waikato), Shyanne Thompson (Counties Manukau), Stephanie Lualua (Waikato), Tachelle Gardiner (Taranaki), Tanya Kalounivale (Waikato), Waikohika Flesher (Counties Manukau)