Sarah Hirini available for the Manawatū Cyclones
New Zealand Sevens captain Sarah Hirini is set to lace up her boots alongside her sister in the Manawatū Cyclones this year.
The Black Ferns Sevens captain is one of a host of sevens international New Zealand Rugby has released for the provincial season, opening the door for her to line up alongside sister Rachael Rakatau, who will also return to the Cyclones this season after missing the 2019 season while pregnant.
Hirini, nee Goss, is expected to also turn out for Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua in the Prue Christie Cup, which kicks off on July 4.
Cyclones head coach Fusi Feaunati received a call from Hirini prior to her committing to the team.
“She didn’t want to just walk straight back into the team,” he said.
Feaunati said Hirini was excited by the chance to play rugby next to her sister, adding that the duo are very competitive when it comes to sport.
While Hirini and Rakatau have played together in the Manawatū sevens team, they have never played for the Cyclones together.
Rakatau, 29, played one season for the Cyclones in 2018, impressing so much in her six games for the province that she was named forward of the year.
While not able to take the field in 2019, she served as the team’s assistant manager.
Hirini, 27, debuted for the Cyclones in 2011.
She played 13 games in three seasons before her international sevens commitments made her unavailable.
Hirini has played 213 times for the Black Ferns Sevens, making her New Zealand’s most capped player.
On top of that, she played 10 tests for the Black Ferns, including at the 2017 Women’s World Cup.
Last year she became the first woman to win the Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year.
Hirini and Rakatau will not be the only key names available for the Cyclones.
2019 New Zealand Sevens representative Rhiarna Ferris will also be available for Manawatū and Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua.
Ferris made her international debut last season. She has 10 Cyclones games to her name, splitting her time between wing, loose forward and lock.
Fellow former New Zealand Sevens representative Rebekah Tufuga is also expected to be available to the team as she battles her way back from injury.
The Cyclones also have the likes of Black Ferns legend Selica Winiata and former Black Ferns Janna Vaughan and Sosoli Talawadua along with Manu Sina captain Marilyn Live and talented up and comers like Kahurangi Sturmey, Kalyn Takitimu-Cook and Carys Dallinger.
The Farah Palmer Cup is set to kick off in late August.