Reds sweating on Leiataua's availability as Kiwi playmaker eyes Super W debut

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

The Reds women are sweating on the results of scans to import Hasting Leiataua's knee to determine whether the crafty playmaker is able to make her Super W debut against RugbyWA on Saturday.

Leiataua fell awkwardly in a tackle in the Reds' trial loss to Fijiana at Ballymore on Sunday afternoon and was assisted from the field in the first half.

With her right knee already heavily strapped, Leiataua appeared on the sidelines with ice applied to her left knee after the match and confirmed she is likely to undergo scans to determine whether she can travel to Perth with the team later this week.

Her loss would be a blow to the Reds, who are also hoping captain Lori Cramer - who missed Sunday's match against Fijiana - will be available to play.

Leiataua, recruited as a flyhalf and inside centre, was pushed back to no.15 on Sunday and looked solid for the Reds before being forced from the field.

Coach Moana Virtue hopes Leiataua is available for selection.

"She's helped us a lot too because we didn't have a fullback, so she's just been training at second five and then all of a sudden we threw her back but she was like, 'I'll give it a go'," Virtue said.

"It's that type of attitude that we're looking for as well. I feel so sorry for her (if she can't play).

"But that's rugby and that's not going to be the last time it happens either, we just have to deal with it."

The 23-year-old was spotted playing the BrisVegas 7s last November, an event she had entered for fun while visiting family.


"I did come (to Australia semi-regularly) for other occasions, family members' birthdays and what not and then I played in the BrisVegas 7s which was fun and I had no idea there were scouts," Leiataua said.

"And it was from that, some gentleman came over and said: 'We'll see you soon.'

"I was going to give rugby this year, a break but with the opportunity, it doesn't come often - and it's Australia, I'm a big fan of Australia."

Moving was a big decision for Leiataua though, who gained a work transfer from March but had to move earlier due to the start of pre-season training and the Super W season.

"When I was back home it was easy for me to adapt trainings around work hours because it's shift work, however here, I'm new and I can't really do that," she said.

"So I'm doing rugby and job searching."


The gamble seems worth it for the Auckland Marist club player, who also represents the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup, New Zealand's provincial women's competition.

Leiataua has watched the progression of the Super W closely and envies the ties between the women's and men's Super Rugby franchises.

"It's really good seeing that Super W has grown a lot here in Australia, I wish it could be the same back home," she said.

"Imagine if there could be a women's Blues team, Hurricanes, that'd be crazy. It gives more fun to the girls who are really loving the sport itself."

"I watch it a lot back home as well, just wishing we had the same.

"We have been fighting to get a Blues team as well or something. We don't need to have South Africa on board like the boys but it would be good to have Australia and New Zealand travelling back and forth for the Super W, that would be good fun."

Her familiarity with the competition means no one has had to explain the Reds' desire to claw their way into a third consecutive Super W final to have the chance to finally lift the trophy.

"It was intense, it could have gone either way really," she said of last year's final between Queensland and NSW.

And no one has to explain that interstate rivalry to her either.

"That is like for Auckland and Canterbury, the battle of the North Island and South Island," she said.

"To come into an environment where there's a lot of competition is what I really love - that intensity of wanting to win and just learnings, it's really good to be here, I'm just really excited and overwhelmed.

"To be honest, there's a lot of pressure, especially for us newbies, because the bar has been set so high. The least we can do is try our best and give it our all and just hope for a better outcome this year."

The Reds head to Perth on Friday ahead of their clash with RugbyWA on Saturday, February 22, kicking off at 7pm AEDT (4pm local) and broadcast LIVE on RUGBY.com.au.