Three debutants to start for Cyclones

Three debutants to start for Cyclones

Cyclones coach Fusi Feaunati has named three debutants to start against Auckland in their first round of the Farah Palmer Cup match in Auckland on Saturday.

Feaunati named his first side of the season on Thursday with fullback Selica Winiata and flanker Nicole Dickins down as co-captains.

Lock Rachel Rakatau and wings Megan Gaffney and Kalyn Takitimu-Cook will all start their first games for the side.

But two of that duo are no strangers to top-level rugby.

Rakatau, sister of New Zealand Sevens captain Sarah Goss, is an experienced provincial sevens player, but has opted to give 15s a real crack this year, while Gaffney is a Scottish international wing, who has been in Palmerston North with her partner for the past year.

The third debutant, Takitimu-Cook, is a highly rated up-and-comer still at high school at Manukura.

The pacey and deceptively strong runner has been named on the wing for the match, but her future looks destined for the No 10 jersey.

“We are going to give her time to get comfortable in the environment,” Feaunati said.

“No 10 is a pretty pressurised position to be in at the FPC level. We have put Corrineke Windle in at 10. She gives us stability, she is a very good passer of the ball and has a good kicking game.”

Winiata is one of two Black Ferns in the starting side with halfback Kristina Sue also confirmed.

Feaunati said they have not set a goal of a particular result for the season.

“We have got no focus on results. Obviously, we plan to win games and get competition points, but our focus is around our processes and our skillsets. If the team executes well and play the game plan according to what we put in place, that should look after the scoreboard for us.”

“But don’t get me wrong, we are here to compete to win.”

The Cyclones came close to beating Auckland in 2016 and then drew with them in 2017.

He believed his side was ready to go one better in 2018.

“They have shown that they are more than capable of playing against these big teams, not just big in stature but big in status. We don’t want to come close enough and almost and we played well. We want to have the result.”

Cyclones: 15 Selica Winiata, 14 Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, 13 Vaine Greig, 12 Ruby Finau, 11 Megan Gaffney, 10 Corrineke Windle, 9 Kristina Sue, 8 Marilyn Live, 7 Nicole Dickins, 6 Sam Tipene, 5 Rachel Rakatau, 4 Mahalia Polson, 3 Sita Kuruyabaki, 2 Kahli Tipene, 1 Rikki Rawleigh. Reserves: 16 Jayme Nuku, 17 Sequita Hemingway, 18 Jessica Fagan-Pease, 19 Sam Olsen, 20 Lauren Balsillie, 21 Carys Dallinger, 22 Lucy Brown