Cyclones’ Scottish wing loving her Kiwi rugby experience

Cyclones’ Scottish wing loving her Kiwi rugby experience

Cyclones wing Megan Gaffney is lapping up her opportunity to have a crack at New Zealand Rugby.

The Scottish international made her Farah Palmer Cup debut in the Cyclones’ win over Auckland last Saturday.

Gaffney has been also been named to start for the side in their round two match against Counties Manukau on Saturday in Papakura.

The 26-year-old has been in New Zealand for the past year with her partner Colin Sturgeon, who spent the season playing Manawatu club rugby with Old Boys-Marist.

Gaffney, who has played 25 tests for Scotland, said she did not initially plan to play during their time in New Zealand.

“It has been nice to have a break because I have been in the Scotland international set-up for eight years. It is a lot of work,” she said.

“I was quite happy to have a break from rugby, but then why would you not play rugby when you are in New Zealand? So I went down to Kia Toa and it went from there.”

At that point she did not even know what Farah Palmer Cup was, but she was quickly recruited by the coaching staff.

She started last week against Auckland, but the magnitude of the Cyclones beating Auckland for the first time did not become apparent to her until fulltime.

“I did not realise how much of a big deal it was until the reactions after. I am just really happy to be a part of it.”

Gaffney, who has also played 10 sevens tournaments for Scotland, was unsure of her plans beyond this season. Taking a stab at the national sevens title with the defending champion Manawatu side was a possibility.

But first her focus will be on trying to help Cyclones continue their impressive start to the season when they take on Counties Manukau.

“We have got a bit of a different team and some players in different positions, but I don’t think that will affect us at all. Our last training was really strong so we are feeling good.”

Coach Fusi Feaunati has been forced to make a handful of changes for week two including covering the loss of impressive schoolgirl Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, who scored three tries on debut last week.

Takitimu-Cook is unavailable while playing for her high school Manukura in the National Top Four First XV finals along with Cyclones teammates Lucy Brown and Carys Dallinger.

Halfback Kristina Sue will play for the Cyclones before rushing back to Palmerston North to coach the Manukura side.

Lauren Balsillie starts on the wing in Takitimu-Cook’s place.

Also out are prop Rikki Rawleigh and lock Rachel Rakatau, replaced in the starting XV by Sequita Hemingway and Jessica Fagan-Pease respectively.

Former Commonwealth Games cyclist Stephine McKenzie will have a chance to make her debut off the bench.

Manawatu Cyclones: 15 Selica Winiata, 14 Megan Gaffney, 13 Vaine Greig, 12 Ruby Finau, 11 Lauren Balsillie, 10 Corrineke Windle, 9 Kristina Sue, 8 Marilyn Live, 7 Sam Tipene, 6 Nicole Dickins, 5 Jessica Fagan-Pease, 4 Mahalia Polson, 3 Sita Kuruyabaki, 2 Kahli Tipene, 1 Sequita Hemingway. Reserves: 16 Jayme Nuku, 17 Stephanie McKenzie, 18 Ashleigh Knight, 19 Abbey Rivers, 20 Samantha Olsen, 21 Shanna Porima, 22 Maggie Leota