All things change but the Spirit continues

The broom has swept through the Spirit and it is a new side that will open its account in the Farah Palmer Cup today.

The side has a new coach, a new captain and a couple of stalwarts have moved on.

The side did well to make it through to the championships final last year when it lost a close one to Bay of Plenty in a rain-swamped match at Mount Maunganui.

Former Otago prop Scott Manson has come in as coach and he is being assisted by Karina Nafatali and Jamie Angus.

Kane Jury, who coached the side last year, is involved with the Otago men’s team as a skills coach.

The side has lost its captain, Angie Sisifa having made the move up the road to Canterbury.

Sisifa, who has been a big part of the Spirit for the past few years both on and off the paddock, will be missed.

She was a regular ball carrier for the side and gave it some go forward throughout the games she played.

She made the Black Ferns over the past couple of years but with such intense competition for the black jersey in the loose forwards has missed out this season.

She has not been named to start for Canterbury when the defending champion takes on Bay of Plenty in Tauranga.

But someone moving on just creates another opportunity and Manson has named former Otago forward Rebecca Todd at No8.Todd had previously played for the side before heading north a few years ago.

But she has returned and will give some experience to the side.

Five forwards who started in the final against Bay of Plenty last year are back in the team for today’s game, so there are some combinations there.

In the backs, only midfielder Greer Muir and Sheree Hume begin the game from the backline that started last year.

Kilisitina Moata’ane is a big loss, out with an ankle injury, and it is hoped she is not off the field for too long.

The Spirit had just the one warm-up game,  a game of three halves against Tasman and Canterbury.

It will want to hit the ground running. Many of the North Island sides have big, strong packs so the Spirit will look to move the ball round and run the forwards round.

The side has three home games this season and will face Hawke’s Bay next weekend at the Oval.

There had been an indication today’s game might have to be played in Balclutha because  accommodation was all booked for the Pink concert.

However, the Harbour players have found some rooms in Mosgiel and will fly home this afternoon following the match.


Otago Spirit v North Harbour
University of Otago Oval, today, noon

Otago Spirit: Sheree Hume, Trisha Hopcroft, Georgina McCullough, Greer Muir, Cass Engler, Rosie Kelly, Sammy Wong, Rebecca Todd, Georgia Mason, Morgan Henderson, Jess Kendall, Julia Gorinski, Eilis Doyle, Tegan Hollows (captain), Isla Pringle. Reserves: Zoe Whatarau, Amy Rule, Kate Smith, Rachel Scott, Kiana Wereta, Islay Fowler, Cheyenne Cunningham.

North Harbour: Kelsey Macdonald, Heather Muir, Juliana Newman, Rona Wharawhara, Caitlyn Cox, Stacey Tupe, Gloria Vegar, Lydia Crossman, Kate Williams, Pia Tapsell, Rebecca Wood (captain), Sophie Fisher, Cheyenne Wikaira, Amy Robertshaw, Inga Timani. Reserves: Billy-Jo Jones, Finesa Makasini, Karina Christiansen, Jemma Palmer, Nikita Ngaronga-Porima, Katelyn Hilton, Justine Vizirgianakis

Referee: James Doleman (Otago)

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