Women’s rugby league breaks new ground when the Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays play the first curtain-raiser on the Vodafone Warriors’ Harvey Norman Women in League day at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (12.40pm kick-off).

It’s the first time a women’s game has been on the bill for a Vodafone Warriors game day, adding a special touch to a programme built around acknowledging the outstanding contribution women make to all facets of the code.

In the build-up to the historic event, six players from each of the Akarana and Counties Manukau sides joined the Vodafone Warriors at their field session on Tuesday, watching on before lining up for a game of touch with a group of Vodafone Warriors players.

Among the women were Kiwi Ferns Teuila Fotu-Moala, Atawhai Tupaea and Krystal Rota while their opponents included Tuimoala Lolohea, Issac Luke, Jazz Tevaga, Charlie Gubb, Toafofoa Sipley and Jonathan Wright.

Late Rota (Counties Manukau) and Madison Bartlett (Akarana) spoke to Vodafone Warriors about what Saturday’s breakthrough means for them and for women’s rugby league in a wider sense.

Included in the two squads named are 12 players involved in the Kiwi Ferns’ memorable 26-16 Anzac Test win over the Jillaroos at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle in May. Three of them – Georgia Hale, Va’anessa Moli-Fraser and Annetta Nuuausala – are in the Akarana side while Counties Manukau boasts Kiwi Ferns captain Sarina Fiso, Mary-Jane Ale, Amber Kani, Langi Veainu, Lilieta Maumau, Kelly Maipi, Fotu-Moala, Tupaea and Rota.

Also playing for Akarana are Tash Tapu and Alex Cook, who were both in the Kiwi Ferns team which won the three-match series against Australia at the NRL Auckland Nines while veteran Laura Mariu – the veteran of four World Cup appearances and three wins – is in the Counties Manukau line-up.

Included in the Akarana side are rugby league great Stacey Jones’ niece Laishon and former Kiwi Frank Paul Nuuausala’s sister Annetta while Rota’s father is Roger Rota, who had a long playing career on the Auckland club scene before turning to coaching.

As well as providing a platform to further promote Saturday’s Women in League theme, the contest between Akarana and Counties Manukau is a rematch of last year’s national tournament final.

Women’s rugby league now enjoys much greater exposure than it has ever had through the stunning spectacles delivered by televised coverage of the Kiwi Ferns’ success at the NRL Auckland Nines tournament and also their Test battles against the Jillaroos.

It has come about at a time when the New Zealand Rugby League has taken over administration of the women’s game, working with the NRL for the betterment of the cause.

Before the game on Saturday the NZRL will convene its new women’s advisory panel, which has been put together to tackle some of the issues facing the game, notably the national team’s programme and the pathways available to women players, referees, coaches and others wishing to be involved.

 

AKARANA v COUNTIES MANUKAU

12.40pm, Saturday, July 30

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland    

 

AKARANA FALCONS

1            Tasha Tapu (Richmond)

2            Madison Bartlett (Richmond)

3            Sharlen Atai (Richmond)

4            Va’anessa Molia-Fraser (Bay Roskill)

5            Lara Diamond-Brahne (Marist)

6            Laishon Jones (Richmond)

7            Alexandra Cook (Richmond)

8            Amber Hall (Richmond)

9            Georgia Hale © (Richmond)

10          Contessah Wright (Marist)

11          Lani Williams (Richmond)

12          Annetta Nuuausala (Marist)

13          Ngatokutoru Arakua (Marist)

14          Montana Taogaga (Richmond)

15          Alice Vailea (Bay Roskill)

16          Chloe Clarke (Marist)

17          Cesa Luafalealo (Marist)

18          Elizabeth Golding (Te Atatu)

19          Pamela McHardy (Pt Chevalier)

20          Tanika Jazz Noble-Bell (Richmond)

Head coach | Ross Uele

Assistant coach | Francis Meli

 

COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS

1            Sarina Fiso (c) (Manurewa)

2            Jocephy Daniels (Manurewa)

3            Mary-Jane Ale (Papakura)

4            Amber Kani (Manurewa)

5            Langi Veainu (Papakura)

6            Laura Mariu (Papakura)

7            Kimiora Nati (Manurewa)

8            Lilieta Maumau (Otahuhu)

9            Hilda Peters (Papakura)

10          Kelly Maipi (Manurewa)

11          Teuila Fotu-Moala (Otahuhu)

12          Louisa Gago (Manurewa)

13          Atawhai Tupaea (Papakura)

14          Krystal Rota (Manurewa)

15          Billy-Jean Ale (Papakura)

16          Harata Butler (Papakura)

17          Geneva Webber (Manurewa)

18          Aleasha Brider (Papakura)

Head coach | Shaun Clark

Assistant coach | Lawrie Mirko 

BUY TICKETS NOW | VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH (WOMEN IN LEAGUE MATCH), MOUNT SMART STADIUM, SATURDAY (5.00PM)