Super Rugby Aupiki- Round 1

NZ Rugby World team

Author short introduction. Three to five lines of brief description.

Chiefs Manawa vs Matatū

-Thursday 10th March 7.05pm at FMG Stadium in Hamilton

Ruby Tui of the Chiefs Manawa in action during the Super Rugby Aupiki Game between Chiefs Manawa and Matatu at Owen Delany Park on March 05, 2022 in Taupo, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

It will be the second time these teams face each other after their pre-season hit out last weekend, where Chiefs Manawa came away with the win. It will also be the moment where 25 players etch their name in the history books as the first ever Matatū team to take the field in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki.

Matatū Head Coach Blair Baxter said this week’s team naming was a historic moment. “There’s been some really special moments,” Baxter said. “It was pretty emotional when we named the team yesterday, internally.” The Matatū team list has stayed pretty consistent with Saturday’s pre-season line up, with the addition of Wallaroo Arabella McKenzie sitting in at number 22.

The Chiefs Manawa side remains mostly unchanged from last week. There is just one change in the loose forwards who started in last week’s pre-season match with Pia Tapsell named at blindside. Waitomo Chiefs Manawa Captain Les Elder will once again start at openside flanker with Black Fern Kennedy Simon at Number 8. In the backs, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu keeps her starting halfback position, pairing up with Black Ferns veteran Kelly Brazier at first five-eighth who will make her debut. An elusive starting midfield features Black Fern Carla Hohepa and Georgia Daals in jerseys 12 and 13 respectively, both set to make their debuts. The starting back three features two prolific debutants on the wings with extensive Black Ferns Sevens experience. Ruby Tui will start on the left wing, with Portia Woodman covering the right. Hazel Tubic keeps her pre-season starting spot at fullback to round out the starting fifteen.

Waitomo Chiefs Manawa Head Coach Allan Bunting said the players are excited to make history in the first official match of Sky Super Rugby Aupiki and the pre-season match was advantageous for preparations.

“It was great to finally play a game and have something to build off. We knew Matatū would be very well polished and expected nothing less than what came our way, we know they will be much better this Thursday. In what’s been a challenging lead in to this competition it is great to be able to get some quality time together. The ladies are excited to be a part of history and run out at FMG Stadium Waikato wearing our jersey. We are certainly grateful to be in a position to be able to play another game and feel for the Hurricanes Poua and Blues, hopefully we get to see them take part in the near future.” said Bunting.

Prediction: With a team stacked full of Black Ferns, Chiefs Manawa will be too strong. Chiefs Manawa 13+

TAB: $1.33 Chiefs Manawa $3.00 Matatu

Hurricanes Poua vs NIB Blues

-Thursday 10th March 3:35pm at FMG Stadium in Hamilton

The Hurricanes Poua and Blues were scheduled to kick off beforehand from 3.35pm at FMG Stadium Waikato, however will share competition points after their match was cancelled due to covid cases and isolation requirements in the Hurricanes Poua squad. New Zealand Rugby General Manager of Professional Rugby and Performance Chris Lendrum aid while it was tough news it was the only option.

“This is obviously not how we wanted to see the opening day of Sky Super Rugby Aupiki play out, but player wellbeing is the number one priority so while it was a tough decision for the Hurricanes, it was a necessary one.

"Our thoughts and support are with the Poua players and management in this tough time” said Lendrum.

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