Takitimu-Cook returns for Cyclones clash with Bay of Plenty

Takitimu-Cook returns for Cyclones clash with Bay of Plenty

She may be among the youngest players in the Farah Palmer Cup this year, but Kalyn Takitimu-Cook is not getting overawed by the step up to provincial rugby.

The 18-year-old is back in the starting XV for the Cyclones for this weekend’s match against Bay of Plenty, ready to back up a dream debut against Auckland two weeks ago.

Last weekend, Takitimu-Cook had to rely on score updates from her Cyclones teammates from their match against Counties Manukau as she stayed behind in Palmerston North to contest the National First XV Top Four with her high school side Manukura.

Manukura made the girls’ final but fell to Hamilton Girls’ High School.

She said it was a special opportunity for the small Palmerston North school to foot it with the best in the country.

“It was an awesome experience. We got to play so top athletes from the other teams. We were very fortunate to make it,” she said.

It continues what has been a dream year for the rising star.

Earlier this year she was selected in the New Zealand Under 18 Sevens team who will compete in the Youth Olympics next month.

That was followed by her helping club side Feilding Old Boys-Oroua to the Manawatu club rugby title, her school Manukura to the Manawatu schools title and then her selection in the Cyclones squad.

Her arrival on the FPC stage was marked by a hat-trick of tries against Auckland.

But the humble teenager refused to take credit for the performance.

“It was all a team effort. I put that on my teammates who set me up with the awesome tries,” she said.

Being part of a team that includes the likes of Black Ferns Selica Winiata and Kristina Sue was an opportunity that Takitimu-Cook was trying to make the most of.

“The culture that Fusi [Feaunati], our coach, has set from the start has been really strong. The girls are responding really well and I am very fortunate to be part of the team. It is a real awesome environment because there are heaps of real skilful girls who can help us.”

For one of those big name players, it has the potential to be a big match. Regular fullback Winiata will slot in at first five-eighth in place of the injured Corrineke Windle.

Winiata is one try away from becoming the first New Zealand women’s player to score 100 first class tries.

Carys Dallinger and Ashleigh Knight will both get their first starts for the Cyclones at fullback and lock respectively.

Cyclones: 15 Carys Dallinger, 14 Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, 13 Vaine Greig, 12 Ruby Finau, 11 Lauren Balsillie, 10 Selica Winiata, 9 Kristina Sue, 8 Marilyn Live, 7 Sam Tipene, 6 Nicole Dickins, 5 Rachael Rakatau, 4 Ashleigh Knight, 3 Sequita Hemingway, 2 Jayme Nuku, 1 Rikki Rawleigh. Reserve: 16 Kahli Tipene, 17 Shanna Porima, 18 Jessica Fagan-Pease, 19 Samantha Olsen, 20 Maggie Leota, 21 Megan Gaffney, 22 Lucy Brown.