Coaches kōrero: Farah Palmer Cup Week 2

Wes

This week, we catch up with Assistant coach Wesley Clarke.

 

It’s only round two, but already the Black Ferns coaches have their work cut out for them with the amount of talent on display in the Farah Palmer Cup.

 

You just have to look at that Auckland v Northland encounter on Sunday. One of the best matches in the competitions’ history. The Kauri, only in their second year, pushing a powerhouse Storm outfit right until after the hooter, only going down 29-22. Of course, Clarke thought that match was outstanding.

 

“I think it’s great that Northland have put together a few Black Ferns up there and they have had a massive impact on the game. That’s Tyla [Nathan-Wong], Vic [Subritzky-Nafatali], Aroha [Savage], TK [Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate] and Portia [Woodman]. Then around them the team really seems to have come together, and their forward pack played particularly well.”

 

Clarke credited Northland No 8 Aroha Savage, delighted to see her make a strong comeback after missing last season. The 33-Test Black Fern is certainly back on the radar of the national coaches with her exciting form.

 

A couple of Canterbury players also impressed Clarke, who jumped into the commentary box for the match-up between the defending champions and Manawatu last weekend.

 

“Alana Bremner was excellent for Canterbury and Kendra Cocksedge is playing some of the best rugby of her life. I’ve watched her in pre-season as well, so she’s been outstanding,” said Clarke.

 

“It’s also great to see Portia [Woodman] having a massive impact on the game, particularly with her work rate for Northland.”

 

 

There was one player that inspired coaches, players and fans alike last Friday night. Black Ferns skipper Les Elder returned to the field for her Bay of Plenty Volcanix side, just four months after giving birth to her daughter. She even dotted down for a try in their convincing 67-17 victory over North Harbour.

 

Clarke was thrilled to see Elder back, happy with her work rate and pleased with the amount of line out balls she took.

 

“Her work ethic is second to none. Her focus on being the best she can be is second to none and I think if anyone across the country is looking for someone to look up to in terms of their preparation and all the things they do off the field to get themselves ready to perform the way she performed in that game, she’d be the one.”

 

With the Black Ferns Test schedule in 2020 severely impacted due to Covid-19, Clarke said players getting game time in the Farah Palmer Cup in vital.

 

“Having the competition here at such a high standard is really critical to us. We have weekly selection meetings and to see players perform as well as they do is giving us some headaches, which is fantastic as we start looking to solidifying a team towards next year and contracting as well.”

 

New Zealand Rugby announced on Thursday [NZT] that at the conclusion of the Farah Palmer Cup players will be selected to feature in a Possibles v Probables match on November 7, with a Black Ferns team to be picked from that match.

 

From there, the Black Ferns will play two games against the New Zealand Barbarians on November 14 and November 21. 

 

 

FIXTURES THIS WEEKEND

Wellington Pride v Hawke’s Bay Tui

Saturday 19 September

12.30pm, Hutt Recreation Ground, Wellington

Downer Referee: Jono Bredin

LIVE STREAMED ON WELLINGTON FACEBOOK PAGE

 

Canterbury v Otago Spirit

Saturday 19 September

2.05pm, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch  

Downer Referee: Lauren Jenner

LIVE ON SKY SPORT

 

Taranaki Whio v North Harbour Hibiscus

Saturday 19 September

2.45pm, TET Stadium & Events Centre, Inglewood

Downer Referee: Tiana Ngawati

LIVE STREMED ON TARANAKI FACEBOOK PAGE

 

Bay of Plenty Volcanix v Waikato

Saturday 19 September

2pm, Blake Park, Mount Maunganui

Downer Referee: Becs Mahoney

LIVE ON SKY SPORT

 

Manawatu Cyclones v Tasman Mako

Sunday 20 September

11.35am, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North

Downer Referee: Nick Hogan

LIVE ON SKY SPORT

 

Auckland Storm v Counties Manukau Heat

Sunday 20 September

2.05pm, Eden Park, Auckland

Downer Referee: Brittany Andrew

LIVE STREAMED ON AUCKLAND RUGBY FACEBOOK PAGE