Hawke's Bay Tui stepping in right direction - Krysten Cottrell

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The scheduled fixture against the Mako last Saturday was cancelled due to the unusually inclement weather in Nelson - the Tui sharing two points with their hosts. 

 

Hawke’s Bay were comprehensively beaten by Championship leaders Otago in the first round, but have won three on the bounce since.

 

Former Black Ferns first five-eighth Krysten Cottrell is an influential leader for the Tui.

 

“There was heaps of effort in trying to get the Tasman game to go ahead. We trained on Thursday and packed our wetsuits and flippers,” Cottrell laughed.

 

“We entertained every option to try to play which included Tasman coming to us, meeting halfway, or even playing at a later date. Unfortunately nothing worked out.

 

“Hopefully we don’t lose the momentum we’ve gained in the past couple of weeks. We have to stay connected and keep working towards the small gains we strive for on and off the field.”

 

Hawke’s Bay started the season at the receiving end of a 22-44 thrashing by Championship leaders Otago. Cottrell concedes Hawke’s Bay weren’t in the best shape at the start of 2022.

 

 

“Some of the girls struggled with fitness and new combinations. Personally, I missed our only pre-season game because I got Covid.

 

“Otago gave us a bit of a tune up. They were a Premiership side last year and perhaps in hindsight that’s what we needed.”

 

Hawke’s Bay responded from the Spirit setback with resounding victories over North Harbour (32-5), Northland (32-17) and Taranaki (45-15).

 

“I think our best win this season was against Taranaki. Northland is a big and dangerous side, but against Taranaki we defended really well, ran with freedom, and achieved most of the goals we set ourselves beforehand.”

 

Cottrell is running the cutter with Emma Jensen, a three-time World Cup winner who has been playing first class rugby since 1999. Cottrell is keen to stress that younger talent is flourishing.

 

“It’s EJ’s last year. She’s been waiting for a couple of young halfbacks to come through and we’ve got two good one’s in Awa Kahlia from a netball background at Hastings Girls’ and Shaylee Tipiwai who is versatile. 

 

“Amelia Pasikala and Gemma Woods are two who’ve stood out for us. Amelia is a big, powerful centre who really uses her size to her advantage. Gemma started life as a halfback but moved into the loose forwards which is better suited to her style. Now she’s playing prop.”

 

Pasikala scored two tries in the aforementioned success against Taranaki having hurt Northland a week prior.

 

Cottrell, 30, was the leading points scorer in the FPC last year helping the Tui reach the Championship final. In May 2018 she was confirmed by New Zealand Rugby as being in a select group of 28 players to be offered an inaugural Black Ferns professional contract.

 

She played eight tests until 2019, disappointed to miss the Northern Tour in October and November of 2021.

 

“I haven’t given up on the World Cup. I’ve just to keep putting my best foot forward. It was a bit frustrating to play a whole season and miss out when many players didn’t get a full season because of Covid. 

 

“It looks like the Black Ferns have turned a corner. They’re playing some exciting rugby as a unit, not always the case in the Pacific Four series.”

 

Cottrell who works in the development space in Hawke’s Bay Rugby was a longtime junior coach of new Black Fern Liana Mikaele-Tu'u.

 

The regular season in the Championship concludes this weekend with quarterfinals between Northland and Taranaki and Tasman and North Harbour. Hawke’s Bay will play the winner of the former fixture.