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Black Ferns ‘weapon’ Kennedy Simon named Chiefs Manawa captain for 2024

By Finn Morton
Kennedy Simon of New Zealand celebrates with the Rugby World Cup trophy after winning the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final match between New Zealand and England at Eden Park on November 12, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Rugby World Cup-winning Black Fern Kennedy Simon will lead the Chiefs Manawa in 2024 as the team sets their sights on possibly winning their second Super Rugby Aupiki crown in three seasons.

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Simon, 27, shared the captaincy duties along with playmaker Ruahei Demant as New Zealand charged towards a once unlikely World Cup title on home soil a couple of years ago.

The loose forward is renowned as one of New Zealand’s premier women’s rugby players, and fans will get to see why that is once again during the upcoming Aupiki season.

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Harbouring title ambitions, and after losing last year’s final to Matatu, the Chiefs Manawa confirmed this week that Simon will captain the team again in 2024.

“Kennedy drives the standards and lives the values,” head coach Crystal Kaua said in a statement. “She cares deeply for her teammates and is always looking inward at how she can be better.

“She’s a weapon on the field and a fabulous role model off it.”

In the inaugural season, the Manawa were crowned champions after finishing the regular season with a perfect record of three wins from as many starts.

Their dominance in Aupiki carried into the second season, too, with the Chiefs topping the ladder with another perfect regular season record. But Matatu fullback Renee Holmes put on a masterclass in the final to upset the then-reigning champions.

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But this team will be full of confidence and belief ahead of the new campaign. Black Ferns Renee Holmes, Grace Steinmetz, Chelsea Semple and Ruby Tui have all signed on.

With Simon leading the way, the Chiefs Manawa are primed for another big Super Rugby Aupiki season.

“I love the legacy of this franchise, the strong group of men and women who have allowed us to thrive in this space, and most of all the relentless supporters we have,” Kennedy discussed.

“We fell short where it mattered last season so (we) are motivated to go one better this year.

“I love this team and this game and ultimately want to continue to forge a path for our future wahine to aim for the stars.”

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The new season gets underway on March 2nd with Chiefs Manawa set to take on Hurricanes Poua in the opener at FMG Stadium Waikato.

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