Versatile Tufuga trades front-row for midfield for Cyclones’ must-win

Versatile Tufuga trades front-row for midfield for Cyclones’ must-win

The versatility of one of the Cyclones’ most exciting attacking players will be put to the test in the side’s must-win Farah Palmer match against Wellington on Friday night.

Former New Zealand Sevens international Rebekah Tufuga has been named to started at second five-eighth for the match after an ankle injury ruled out Vaine Greig.

Tufuga started her 15s career on the wing, but has turned her focus to the front row in recent seasons.

She came off the bench at hooker in the first two matches.

But coach Fusi Feaunati hoped her experience would help maintain their defensive structures.

The other major change to the starting side is the return of Kahurangi Sturmey.

The athletic netballer will start her first match of the season at lock having recovered from the injury she picked up in preseason.

Sturmey’s return sees Ashleigh Knight shift to the bench and Caterina Poletti out of the 22.

Sarah Hirini remains sidelined with through injury. Hirini is awaiting final clearance to return from her facial fracture but is a good chance to return next week.

This week’s game is a crucial one for both sides in the overall picture of the southern pool as they battle for the top two places.

Wellington is coming off big wins over Hawke’s Bay and Tasman so a win over Manawatū will put them in the box-seat for a semifinal berth.

Manawatū need the win after falling to competition favourites Canterbury in week one, but they bounced back well with a record-breaking 88-0 win over Tasman in week two.

There are two potential debuts on the bench in prop Lavenia Nauga-Grey and loose forward Taylor Waterson.

Manawatū Cyclones

15 Selica Winiata (A&P Trucking)

14 Rangimarie Sturmey (Leader and Watt)

13 Crystal Mayes (Breakers)

12 Rebekah Tufuga (Bevan’s Pototoes)

11 Janna Michal Vaughan (Speedy Signs)

10 Carys Dallinger (Cafe Cuba)

9 Lucy Brown (Totalspan)

8 Kaipo Olsen-Baker (Feilding High School)

7 Sam Tipene (Power Farming)

6 Rhiarna Ferris (Pita Pit Cuba St)

5 Rachael Rakatau (Harley Davidson Feilding)

4 Kahurangi Sturmey (Power Farming)

3 Sosoli Talawadua (Gary Douglas Engineers)

2 Jayme Nuku (Gary Douglas Engineers)

1 Marilyn Live (Junction Wines)

16 Ngano Tavake

17 Lavenia Nauga-Grey

18 Ashleigh Knight

19 Taylor Waterson

20 Paige Lush

21 Kaia Walker-Waitoa

22 Alesha Williams