Adaptability and engaging with growing numbers in the North Harbour Rugby province are key targets for the QBE Harbour Hibiscus in the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup season.
The side will once again be inexperienced compared to other teams in the North conference pool, but coach Duncan McGrory does have is a wealth of juniors to represent and to showcase the game around the region.
The squad contains contracted Black Fern Pia Tapsell who is a highly regarded loose forward as well as prop, Liv Ward-Duine who made her test debut last year in the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy match against Australia in Perth. Former Black Ferns 7s player Hayley Hutana has transferred from Tasman to Harbour due to work commitments.
Lyn Koleman, Dutch International player has been named in the squad. She has been playing her rugby in the Bay of Plenty and is looking to pursue her rugby goal of playing in the FPC by transferring to Harbour.
And while those players have international experience, at the other end of the scale are two high school students, 18-year-old Latisha Trigwell making her debut season and still attending Long Bay College, along with fellow 18-year-old Tenaija Fletcher who made her debut last season and is still at Mahurangi College.
North Harbour Women’s Pathways Manager, Dean Watkins acknowledges there isn’t a huge amount of experience compared to the other six sides in the North conference, however he sees this as a way of developing players and showing juniors there is a pathway to play at a higher level.
“We have massive numbers of junior players at school and junior club level. Around the third largest registration of female players behind Auckland and BOP we want to capture and encourage them in to high school rugby and club rugby. It’s about engaging with the clubs and the young players,” said Watkins.
“We don’t have our own women’s club rugby competition at North Harbour with our players competing in Auckland. We believe if we can take the game to all areas it can develop and create depth.”
Head coach, Duncan McGrory is keen to showcase his talented side in what will be a hotly contested Farah Palmer Cup.
“We are looking forward, as a programme, to pitting ourselves up against some of the bigger unions in the country. While the current pandemic has put some obstacles in our way it has also helped us bond together as a group and we look forward to the challenges ahead,” said McGrory.
“We still have a very young squad. Some of these young players are now entering their second or third campaigns along with their more experienced team mates who have been down the same path and worked hard enough to earn a black jersey.”
The QBE Harbour Hibiscus are still aiming to play two of their matches at club venues to showcase the game and encourage growth. The targeted games are against Waikato at the Mahurangi Rugby Football Club and against Auckland at the Kumeu Rugby Football Club.
The other home game will see the Hibiscus play at North Harbour Stadium in a double-header taking on Bay of Plenty and then the QBE Harbour men face Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup opening match.
QBE Harbour Hibiscus Squad:
Forwards: Olivia Ward-Duin, JayJay Taylor, Shawn Lomu, Finesa Makasini, Toa Filimoehaha, Lynn Koleman, Daniela Haigh, Amy Robertshaw, Clementine Varea, Anita Berry, Sophie Fisher, Caroline Sio, Tearren Nanjan, Manutalaaho Huni, Brooke Ellison, Kate Williams (c), Pia Tapsell, Tenaija Fletcher, Jess Delany.
Backs: Hailey Beale, Anna Powdrell, Tamea Te Rauna, Hailey Hutana, Olivia Waldron, Renee Adams, Mikayla Robinson, Zakiya Kereopa, Danielle Mellow, Latisha Trigwell-Achmad, Mollie Tagaloa, Losi Mafi, Phoenix Littin.