Canterbury cool, calm, excited ahead of Farah Palmer Cup final

Canterbury head coach Blair Baxter. Photo: Getty Images
Canterbury head coach Blair Baxter. Photo: Getty Images
Cool, calm, yet excited is the approach Canterbury will take into their fourth consecutive Farah Palmer Cup final when they host Waikato at Rugby Park tomorrow.

Seventeen of the match-day 22 have featured in one of Canterbury’s previous successful campaigns, though three of the four coaches will experience their first Farah Palmer Cup decider.

"We’re really blessed to have a good chunk of our squad having experienced the finals before, and successfully too," said first-year head coach Blair Baxter.

"But that doesn’t take away the excitement for both them, the new girls or us coaches."

Canterbury take a settled side into the final with the return of experienced prop Pip Love from finger surgery the only change to the run-on side.

Love, who missed the final regular season romp over Tasman and the semi-final win over Auckland, was desperate to feature in another final.

"I can’t wait. This is going to be a big game and I can’t wait to get out there," she said.

"We have such a fun group of girls this year and it’s exciting to get the opportunity to contest the final. We planned for this at the start of the year and we’re here now."

Love replaces Trina Greenslade, who drops to the bench to displace Nina Poletti.

"Having Pip available is massive for us," Baxter said. 

"She’s a world-class loosehead, she offers experience, a calmness and a real physical edge too.

"She’s recharged after two weeks out and I’m expecting a big shift from her."

There are also two injury-enforced changes on the bench with backs Isabella Waterman and Olivia Coady covering the unavailability of Cassie Siataga and Greer O'Rourke.

Baxter expects a tough assignment against Waikato, the only other unbeaten side in the competition after they topped the North pool before eliminating Manawatu.

"They have a really quality side, especially with all their sevens girls, but we’ve come to realise that if we focus on the opposition, we find it impacts our performance rather than enhances it, so this week is very much about what we can do."

Canterbury have met Waikato 13 times in the competition's history, winning on 11 occasions and losing twice, while the visitors have never won in Christchurch.

The kick off is scheduled for 2.05pm.

Canterbury: Grace Steinmetz, Martha Lolohea, Grace Brooker, Liv McGoverne, Sam Curtis, Terauoriwa Gapper, Kendra Cocksedge, Lucy Anderson, Lucy Jenkins, Alana Bremner (capt), Cindy Nelles, Chelsea Bremner, Amy Rule, Rebecca Todd, Pip Love. Reserves: Trina Greenslade, Georgia Ponsonby, Angie Sasifa, Easter Savelio, Sophie O’Cain, Isabella Waterman, Olivia Coady.

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