Squad mix of ‘fresh talent, experience’

Defending Super Rugby Aupiki champions Matatū have added new talent for the 2024 season.

Matatū has managed to retain the majority of the title-winning squad from last season, and welcomes nine new signings and one returner.

Otago’s Maia Joseph joins the squad for the first time.

The first five played for the Black Ferns XV in September and was named the FPC player of the year at the 2022 awards.

She will be joined by Otago hooker Tegan Hollows, who has secured her first Aupiki contract.

Other new recruits for Matatū are Laura Bayfield, Holly Wratt-Groeneweg, Stacey Niao and Winnie Palamo who join from Canterbury, and Tasman’s Fiaali’i Solomona.

Kaipo Olsen-Baker has plied her trade with Hurricanes Poua until now, but has made the move south to challenge herself in a new environment.

Liv McGoverne has returned from a stellar season with the Exeter Chiefs in the Premier 15s competition in England, while Chiefs team-mate and Matatū recruit Charlotte Woodman has also signed.

McGoverne was a foundational member of Matatū in 2021.

Alana Bremner will once again captain the side and is looking forward to the challenge of defending a title.

"We’re so much more than a rugby team at Matatū. We focus just as much on our on-field performance as our off-field culture," Bremner said.

"For us it’s all about connection, about legacy, about being there for each other, having high standards and holding each other accountable — success on the field is just a product of all the other stuff."

Matatū coach Whitney Hansen said she was excited by the ‘‘mix of fresh talent and experience".

"This is a squad to be excited about. We have really great depth across all positions, which is reflective of the great work being done in Otago, Canterbury and Tasman and the connections and pathways growing across these spaces.

The Hurricanes have been dealt a hefty blow with World Cup-winning Black Ferns winger Ayesha Leti-l'iga ruled out of the entire season with a serious knee injury.

The Poua will also be without the services of Black Ferns prop Krystal Murray, who has transferred to the Chiefs Manawa.

But former Black Ferns prop Leilani Perese returns to the Poua.

The most notable gains of Chiefs Manawa are the return of Ruby Tui and Chelsea Semple, while Black Ferns Ariana Bayler, of the Blues, and Grace Steinmetz and Renee Holmes, from Matatū, also join their ranks.

Former Black Ferns Sevens representative Niall Williams-Guthrie joins the the Blues, while prop Aldora Itunu and back Daynah Nankivell are back after missing the 2023 season.

Matatū

The squad

Alana Bremner (captain), Amy Du Plessis, Amy Rule, Atlanta Lolohea, Charlotte Woodman, Chey Robins-Reti, Cheyenne Cunningham, Di Hiini, Eilis Doyle, Emma Dermody, Fiaali'i Solomona, Georgia Cormick, Georgia Ponsonby, Grace Brooker, Holly Wratt-Groeneweg, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Kendra Reynolds, Laura Bayfield, Leah Miles, Liv McGoverne, Lucy Jenkins, Maia Joseph, Marcelle Parkes, Martha Mataele, Moomooga Ashley Palu, Pip Love, Rosie Kelly, Stacey Niao, Tegan Hollows, Winnie Palamo.