Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Patricia Maliepo earns first start for the season

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

After a close loss to the Matatu last weekend, the Blues women’s team will be hoping to make amends when they take on the defending champs Chiefs Manawa on Saturday.

And looking to make her mark on the game is young playmaker Patricia Maliepo. After making a great impact off the bench last week, Maliepo will now start at second five eighth alongside another young midfielder, Sylvia Brunt.

“It’s always a privilege to be named in that 23,” the proud midfielder says.

“I guess no spots are your spots and it is exciting to get a start for the first time this year. It will be cool to get a feel of it from the go instead of coming off the bench.”

The Super Rugby Aupiki competition is only in its second season, and has so far seen an increase in participation and young girls’ interest in the sport.

It’s a positive sign for women’s rugby and the future, which Maliepo is excited about.

“I guess it’s making it harder for me to, you know, get a position,” she says jokingly.

“With women wanting to take up rugby, given it’s a paid sport now, everyone is going to be fighting for that sport. We never had this four years ago and to see it develop over the years is awesome.”

Photo: Supplied

Maliepo replaces Hayley Hutana in the number 12 jersey, and is keen to do well. But it will be a tough outing for her and the Blues, given the experience within the Manawa squad and their success from last year.

“You know I do think about how they were last year’s champions and that we will give it to them when we play them,” she says.

“Other than that, Super Rugby Aupiki has grown so much that it’s unpredictable with everyone just pulling something out of the bag each week.”

With experienced fly half Ruahei Demant running the show at 10, much of the focus on Saturday’s fixture will be on the young midfield pairing of Maliepo and Brunt. Their combination will be vital in securing them the win.

The Blues will play Chiefs Manawa on Saturday at 2:05pm at North Harbour Stadium.

Photo: Super Rugby Aupiki

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