Davida White, coach of Counties Manukau Heat, is keen to grow women’s rugby throughout Franklin. Ardmore and Manurewa have women’s teams with Pukekohe and Papakura starting one next season.
Counties Manukau Heat made the semi finals this year and were narrowly beaten by Wellington and near fulltime too.
No mean feat for a fairly new team. By the time they reached the semis the team were all so beaten and bruised that going on would have been impossible.
“We wouldn’t have had a team to play in the final,” their coach says.
“The girls are highly motivated now that they have had a taste of being in the top four of the national competition. They will be coming back next year.”
Counties Heat is home to at least nine players with international caps for either New Zealand or Samoa and growing the team means the club competition needs to grow to provide a pool of good players to build up and sustain the Heat.
This year reaching the finals was a biggie, despite many top players being off with injuries throughout the season.
“It was only during the first game of the season that everyone played, after that they started to fall away one by one. We beat the top team Canterbury by 50+ points too in that first game.”
Had they all been available one can only imagine what might have been.
“The girls really dug deep to try and get into the final,” says coach White.
Husband Darryl Suasua, who is the new head coach for the Steelers was her assistant coach.
He says he hopes to continue the good relationship Tana Umaga built between the Steelers and the Heat.
“He’s always made the women feel welcome, the two teams often trained together and he would always come over for a chat and to wish them good luck when the Heat were curtain raisers for Steelers’ home games.”
The future is looking good for Counties Manukau Heat and any girls or women wanting to have a go should contact their local club regarding a local women’s team.