Ruahei Demant to Captain the Blues Women in First Ever Super Rugby Aupiki

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New Zealand, Source: RNZ The Blues women’s  have named six Black Ferns and two Black Ferns Sevens players in the starting XV for their first ever game of Super Rugby Aupiki. After a Covid decimated buildup which included the cancellation of last weekend’s game against the Hurricanes Poua, the Blues are eager and excited to finally get on the park, and focussed on a strong first-up performance against Matatū on Tuesday night in Hamilton.
Experienced midfielder Ruahei Demant will captain the team with the pack anchored with Black Ferns props Krystal Murray and Aldora Ituna with two emerging forwards who were debutants on the Black Ferns northern tour in lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos and No 8 Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.  Canterbury’s Mel Puckett is rewarded with the start at halfback inside internationals Patricia Maliepo and Dement, while there are exciting runners outside in Blake Ferns Sevens stars Theresa Fitzpatrick and Tyla Nathan-Wong.

“We have the extended bench and we will need to use them wisely,” said coach Willie Walker.

“We need to play a good platform and establish some opportunities for some of our talented young players.”

There are still a number of players unavailable as they return to full fitness, including captain Aroha Savage and senior leader Eloise Blackwell.

Walker said while the team had gone through many frustrating moments, it was now about focussing on what they can do on the field for the Aupiki opening game.

“It has been trying for sure and challenging but now is our time,” said head coach Willie Walker.

“There’s been a lot of chat as we watched the others play pre-season and competition but now we are finally going to get on the park.

“The girls are excited and eager to get out in the Blues jersey and represent Blue pride.”

Walker said that the focus is firmly on performance on the park.

“It’s been a long time coming. We understand the situation and now things are in our hands. We have put in the work and now we need to make sure we are mentally on-song to produce things on the park. We know we have not had any lead-up games but we are just pleased that this is our chance to shine.”

The Blues team is:

1. Krystal Murray

2. Rebecca Todd

3. Aldora Itunu

4. Cindy Nelles

5. Maiakawanakaulani Roos

6. Shannon Leota

7. Tafito Lafele

8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u

9. Melanie Puckett

10. Patricia Maliepo

11. Natahlia Moors

12. Ruahei Demant ©

13. Theresa Fitzpatrick

14. Shyanne Thompson

15. Tyla Nathan-Wong

Reserves:

16. Chryss Viliko

17. Olivia Ward-Duin

18. Marie-Cilia Po’e-Tofaeono

19. Sophie Fisher

20. Vineta Teutau

21. Tenaija Fletcher

22. Krysten Cottrell

23. Mele Hufanga

24. Sam Curtis

25. Princess Elliot