Manawatu Cyclones to rebuild team
The Manawatu Cyclones have had a clean out and will have to rely on the young brigade to get them through this year's women's provincial championship.
Key players Selica Winiata and Hayley Hutana have New Zealand sevens duties and a few others, including experienced halfback Kristina Sue, are playing rugby league instead of rugby.
There are a handful of players from the Linton Cobras women's team who won the Wellington club competition and are looking to play in the Mid Central Vipers team, who play the national tournament over one weekend, rather than commit to a whole season with the Cyclones.
One of last year's co-captains, flanker Ebony Low, is looking to coach the Vipers for this year's national tournament, while experienced flanker Whanda Leota is another playing league.
They also have a new coach, with Varsity's Mike Lalogafau taking over from Jared Tuoro, who took the team for the past two seasons, but stood down because of family commitments.
Lalogafau is still getting to know the team and said they are looking to the future.
Props Sita Kuruyabaki and Krystal Murray are yet to decide whether they will play league or rugby, but the two big ball carriers will be important players for Lalogafau if they stick with the Cyclones.
Veteran first-five eight Rebecca Mahoney is refereeing, Wairakau Greig is back with the air force and Vaine Greig is unavailable.
The main campaigners back from last year are lock Nicole Dickins, prop Nicci Kuiti, fullback and first five-eighth Krysten Duffill, utility back Crystal Mayes, flanker Christie Yule and new Black Fern Janna Vaughan, who can play centre and wing.
Hooker Aroha Nuku is back after a broken leg at the end of the 2013 season and they have Feilding High School backs in midfielder Corrineke Windle and speedy wing Lauren Balsillie.
Also in the team is former under-17 New Zealand football player Karin Ingram, who is still at St Peter's College, but should get a run on the wing for Manawatu, hooker or flanker Rebekah Tufuga, a converted wing, who was selected in the Black Ferns team, but pulled out with injury and the fast Keri Hayden, a netball convert who recently toured Canada with the Black Ferns.
They have two pre-season games, one against Bay of Plenty in Taupo next weekend and against Hawke's Bay at Napier on August 15, before they start the season against Bay of Plenty in Palmerston North, a curtain-raiser for the Manawatu Turbos' game against Waikato.
The squad will be trimmed from 30 to 26 before the season starts.
- Source: STUFF - Manawatu Standard