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Five Black Ferns stars absent as Super Rugby Aupiki squads announced

By Ned Lester
A select few members of the Black Ferns at the 2022 World Rugby awards in Monaco. Photo by Dave Rogers - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The 2023 Super Rugby Aupiki squads were released this week and while the ever-growing talent pool and fandom of New Zealand women’s rugby may have made way for a slightly expanded competition, some headline names were notably missing from the rosters.

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Those names of course include the departing Kendra Cocksedge, who after a historically successful provincial and international career, hung up the boots following the Black Ferns World Cup victory.

But the key absentees were the Black Ferns Sevens stars; Portia Woodman, Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler, Theresa Fitzpatrick and Sarah Hirini. An unfortunate clash in schedule has the Canadian leg of the World Sevens circuit falling during the second round of the Aupiki season.

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Fan favourite Ruby Tui is reportedly still considering her options for next year and NZR general manager professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum expressed the governing body’s support for Tui either way, implying a roster spot on Tui’s Chiefs Manawa is still on the table for the star outside back.

If Tui is to return to her sisterhood of the Black Ferns Sevens, there’s an abundance of exciting talent looking to fill her boots and follow in her footsteps as breakthrough player of the year, with 28 rookies to feature between the four Super Rugby Aupiki sides.

The Super Rugby Aupiki tournament kicks off on Feburary 25th with three rounds played before the semi finals and finals – which will take place on March 25th at FMG Stadium in Hamilton.

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Here are the teams as announced:

Blues:
Forwards: Alakoka Po’oi, Charmaine McMenamin, Cheyenne Tuli-Fale, Chryss Viliko, Dajian Brown, Eloise Blackwell, Grace Gago, Joanna Fanene Lolo, Letelemalanuola Lavea, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Maama Vaipulu, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Sophie Fisher, Shannon Leota, Tafito Lafaele,

Backs: Ariana Bayler, Holly Williams, Jaymie Kolose, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Kiritapu Demant, Krysten Cottrell, Melanie Puckett, Patricia Maliepo, Ruahei Demant, Logo I Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt, Tara Turner

Key Gains: Ariana Bayler (Chiefs Manawa), Katelyn Vahaakolo (League), Kiritapu Demant.

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On the move: Aroha Savage (Hurricanes Poua), Charmaine Smith (Chiefs Manawa), Cristo Tofa, Krystal Murray (Hurricanes Poua), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Sevens)

Chiefs Manawa:
Forwards: Angel Mulu, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Charmaine Smith, Chelsea Bremner, Chyna Hohepa, Dhys Faleafaga, Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Kelsie Wills, Kennedy Simon, Luka Connor, Pia Tapsell, Santo Taumata, Tanya Kalounivale, Te Urupounamu McGarvey, Tynealle Fitzgerald, Victoria Makea

Backs: Amanda Rasch, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Azalleyah Maaka, Carla Hohepa, Chelsea Semple, Georgia Daals, Hazel Tubic, Langi Veainu, Merania Paraone, Mererangi Paul, Renee Wickliffe, Violet Hapi-Wise

Key Gains: Amanda Rasch (Hurricanes Poua), Chelsea Bremner (Matat?), Charmaine Smith (Blues), Dhys Faleafaga

On the move: Ariana Bayler (Blues), Kelly Brazier (Sevens), Les Elder (Retired), Maia Joseph (Injured), Portia Woodman (Sevens), Rugby Tui (TBC), Stacey Fluhler (Sevens)

Hurricanes Poua:
Forwards: Aroha Savage, Cilia-Marie Po’e-Tofaeono, Cristo Tofa, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kahurangi Sturmey, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Krystal Murray, Layla Sae, Leilani Perese, Maddie Feaunati, Rhiarna Ferris, Rachel Rakatau, Saphire Abraham, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate.

Backs: Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Bernadette Robertson, Carys Dallinger, Crystal Mayes, Iritana Hohaia, Isabella Waterman, Milly Mackey, Monica Tagoai, Teilah Ferguson, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali.

Key Gains: Aroha Savage (Blues), Cilia-Marie Po’e-Tofaeono (Blues), Cristo Tofa (Blues), Isabella Waterman (Matat?), Krystal Murray (Blues)

On the move: Amanda Rasch (Chiefs), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Matat?)

Matatu:
Forwards: Alana Bremner, Amy Rule, Atlanta Lolohea, Cindy Nelles, Emma Dermody, Georgia Ponsonby, Kendra Reynolds, Leah Miles, Lucy Jenkins, Marcelle Parkes, Moomooga (Ona) Palu, Natalie Delamere, Phillipa Love, Sera Naiqama, Steph Te Ohaere Fox.

Backs: Amy Du Plessis, Charntay Poko, Chey Robins-Reti, Cheyenne Cunningham, Di Hiini, Georgia Cormick, Grace Brooker, Grace Steinmetz, Martha Mataele, Renee Holmes, Rosie Kelly, TeRauoriwa Gapper.

Key Gains: Atlanta Lolohea, Georgia Cormick, Charntay Poko, Sera Naiqama (SuperW), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Hurricanes Poua), Cheyenne Cunningham, Cindy Nelles (Blues), Leah Miles.

On the move: Kendra Cocksedge (Retired), Chelsea Bremner (Chiefs Manawa), Isabelle Waterman (Hurricanes Poua), Kilistina Vea (parental leave), Liv McGoverne (Exeter Chiefs).

Release/Super Rugby

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