The Manawatū Cyclones have confirmed their squad for the 2023 Farah Palmer Cup season which will double as a farewell to women’s rugby legend Selica Winiata.

Winiata confirmed it’ll be her last season of rugby as she lifted the Prue Christie Cup for Kia Toa on Saturday.

Poised on 95 games for Manawatū since her debut in 2001, her milestone 100th game is pending.

The Cyclones will be lookting to send the talismatic leader off in style.

Coach Chris Wilton has named a strong team of 32 players for the 2023 season, including 10 debutants.

Among those named in the squad for the first time were two sisters of Cyclones players in hooker Te Uarangi Olsen-Baker, sister of Black Fern Kaipo Olsen-Baker, and halfback Keira Mete, sister of Hollyrae.

Keira Mete is one of three schoolgirls in the squad. The Cullinane College product is joined by Maia Davis of Manukura and Feilding High School’s Taufa Bason. Davis and Mete are both halfbacks, while Bason is a loose forward.

Wikitoria Doyle, daughter of late Manawatū and Horowhenua legend Sam Doyle, was named in the squad as a wing.

Upfront, Traest Mafile’o, sister of Turbo Darius, is named at prop alongside former Force and canoe sprinter Caitlin Burt-Poloai.

Brianna Wallace, who was in the 2022 squad but didn’t take the field, and Sam Taylor were selected as locks.

Te Whetumarama Nuku, who played NRL Nines for the Warriors, will debut in the midfield.

The squad also features a host of returning players in flanker Sam Tipene (injury), No 8 Taylor Waterson (injury), midfielders Rangimarie Sturmey (injury) and Rebekah Tufuga (overseas), Marilyn Live (hapu) and Jashana Te Uawiri (injury).

That group provides significant depth to an already experienced team.

Sosoli Talawadua is back at hooker with Ngano Tavake, Mele Tavake and Ruby-May Ngaruhe at prop.

Kahurangi Sturmey and Rachael Rakatau return at lock with Black Ferns contracted flanker Layla Sae, joining a loose forward group including Rhiarna Ferris, Elinor-Plum King and Kaipo Olsen-Back.

Last season’s back of the year Paige Lush is at halfback, while Mia Maraku and Corrineke Windle will share the services in the No 10 jersey.

Hollyrae Mete, Leiana Marshall-Barton and Winata are the other returning backs.

The Cyclones’ season kicks of against Taranaki on July 23 and their first home game will be against Northland at Central Energy Trust Arena on July 29.

Cyclones 2023 squad

Sososli Talawaadua - Whanganui Marist

Te Uarangi Olsen-Baker - Freyberg

Ngano Tavake - Old Boys-Marist

Marilyn Live - Kia Toa

Caitlin Burt-Poloai - Kia Toa

Ruby-May Ngaruhe - Bush

Mele Tavake - Old Boys-Marist

Traest Mafile’o - Old Boys-Marist

Rachel Rakatau - Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua

Kahurangi Sturmey - Old Boys-Marist

Brianna Wallace - Old Boys-Marist

Sam Taylor - Freyberg

Layla Sae - Old Boys-Marist

Rhiarna Ferris - Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua

Kaipo Olsen-Baker - Freyberg

Elinor-Plum King - Freyberg

Sam Tipene - Bush

Taylor Waterson - Kia Toa

Taufa Bason - Kia Toa

Paige Lush - Freyberg

Maia Davis - Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua

Kiera Mete - Kia Toa

Corrineke Windle - Bush

Mia Maraku - Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua

Rangimarie Sturmey - Old Boys-Marist

Rebekah Tufuga - Kia Toa

Te Whetumarama Nuku - Freyberg

Hollyrae Mete - Kia Toa

Selica Winiata - Kia Toa

Leiana Marshall-Barton - Freyberg

Jashana Te Uawiri - Freyberg

Wikitoria Doyle - Old Boys-Marist


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