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The Canterbury women will host Wellington in Christchurch at Rugby Park at 2.05pm.
The 36-year-old former Black Fern Te Ohaere-Fox led Canterbury to three of their four successive titles before motherhood took precedence last season. She has returned to the squad after giving birth to her second child.
Te Ohaere-Fox arrived in Christchurch in 2001 after taking a summer holiday to visit her sister. The budding prop was enticed to stay and join the Aranui High School Academy.
She represented Canterbury Schools in 2002 and the Canterbury development side the following season ahead of her FPC debut in 2004.
Te Ohaere-Fox has been a fixture in the squad since, apart from in 2010-11 when she stayed in the UK following the women’s Rugby World Cup, and in 2020 due to the birth of her daughter Anatia.
“Anatia turns one next month, but I just couldn’t wait to be back playing alongside my mates who are like my second family,” she said.
Originally from Kerepehi, a small rural town in the Firth of Thames, south of Auckland, Te Ohaere-Fox reckoned she was always destined to wear the red and black of Canterbury.
“It’s funny really, Kerepehi was my dad’s club. I used to watch him play and that’s where my love for rugby started, their colours are red and black, Christchurch, my club here in Canterbury is red and black, and so too Canterbury.”
Te Ohaere-Fox will be the first player since Andrew Mehrtens to run out 100 times for Canterbury, something the former All Black thinks is pretty special.
"To think what Steph’s been able to achieve is simply remarkable, to play for Canterbury, to lead them, to play for the Black Ferns, become a mother," Mehrtens said.
"Returning to play and continue to be competitive across three decades is a massive achievement and something to be very proud of,” he said.
Te Ohaere-Fox will pack down in the front row alongside long-term teammates Rebecca Todd and Pip Love, while Greer O’Rourke gets her first start of the year at openside flanker. Marcell Parkes starts at No 8 against her former side.
The backline that beat Waikato 24-17 in Hamilton last weekend is largely unchanged with Amy du Plessis coming onto the left wing, replacing fellow Black Fern Grace Steinmetz.
Bronwyn Dibb returns to the bench having been at the National Gymnastics Championships last week, where the fleet-footed winger won two golds in the trampoline and double mini trampoline.
Auckland leads the competition with two bonus point wins, a point ahead of Canterbury. Wellington, who have had a bye, are the other unbeaten side in the top-tier premiership.
Canterbury squad: Rosie Kelly, Isabella Waterman, Grace Brooker, Liv McGoverne, Amy du Plessi, Terauoriwa Gapper, Kendra Cocksedge, Marcelle Parkes, Greer O’Rourke, Alana Bremner (capt), Chelsea bremner, Stacey Niao, Steph Te Ohaere-Fox, Rebecca Todd, Phillipa Love. Res: Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Lucy Anderson, Emma Dermody, Jorja Miller, Dianne Hiini, Bronwyn Dibb, Tayla Simpson.