Girls determined to make most of reprieve
For a while it didn't look like the Hanan Shield schoolgirls' rugby team would get a game until the South Canterbury Rugby Union came to the rescue.
The New Zealand Rugby Union had canned the schoolgirl tournament, so South Canterbury stepped in and organised a quadragular event this weekend at Alpine Energy Stadium.
Defending champions Canterbury will start as favourites with Southland coming north.
With the Otago Rugby Union broke, a number of their players will form a composite Hanan Shields Invitation XV along with a number who just missed selection locally.
Coach Barry Fairbrother is pleased the girls will get to play at a higher level.
"The last couple of year we have pushed Canterbury so it would be a shame if the girls had missed out."
The Hanan Shield side is made up of girls from South Canterbury schools as well as Mid Canterbury and North Otago.
Fairbrother has cast his net wide to come up with a combination that could challenge Canterbury with girls selected from seven schools.
Flanker Ruby Cochrane (Waimate) and hard-running No 8 Nicole Purdom (Ashburton) will be key forwards while lock Jess Oliver (Craighead) has impressed in her first year at rugby.
An injury has robbed the side of handy flanker Sam Robins (St Kevins). She has been replaced by Larrisa Tait (Timaru Girls' High School).
In the backs the key combination will be the midfield of Rachel Rolleston (Craighead) and big centre Alice Mareko (Ashburton). Rolleston has plenty of pace and is also a brave defender while Mareko can bust open defences.
The side also has plenty of pace and experience with wings Holly Chapman (Craighead) and Savannah Ormsby (Ashburton).
Hannah Struthers (TGHS) will fill the key role at first-five while her understudy, Year 9 student Sophia Aloloto, looks to be an up-and-coming talent.
Craighead beat Ashburton 13-10 in the Aoraki schools final and contributes the most players to the squad with eight.
The Hanan Shield combination kick off their campaign on Saturday at 11am against Southland.
HANAN SHIELD TEAM From No 1: Bridget McFadden (Ash), Arie Settle (Ash), Lucy Mackay (Crai), Jess Oliver (Crai), Maia Nixon (Mackenzie), Ruby Cochrane (Waimate), Kaleisha Jones (St Kev) Nicole Purdom (Ash), Georgie Emmerson (Crai), Hannah Struthers (TGHS), Savannah Ormsby, (Ash), Rachel Rolleston (Crai), Alice Mareko (Ash), Holly Chapman (Crai), Sarah Kerse (Geraldine); (substitutes) Larissa Tait (TGHS), Bridget Murdoch (Crai), Caitland Rowland (Roncalli), Kelsie Hart (Ger), Georgia Urquhart (Crai), Nicole Dowling (St Kev), Sophia Aloloto (Ash), Aria Bright (Crai).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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