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Arabella McKenzie, Michaela Leonard link up with Matatu for Super Rugby Aupiki

Wed, 03/11/2021, 8:57 pm
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
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Wallaroos Arabella McKenzie and Michaela Leonard will start the season with Super Rugby Aupiki side Matatu.

The deal will see the pair join the Crusaders and Highlanders-affiliated side for the inaugural season of the women's competition in New Zealand as their two international players

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The experience will prove invaluable after a COVID-interrupted 2020, with the deal set to be a one-off collaboration between the two nations

McKenzie and Leonard will leave for New Zealand in early January 2022 and will be able to return to Australia in time for round three of Super W competition, which is slated to return to the normal home-and-away format.

Ahead of a packed schedule, the move was supported by Wallaroos officials as they look to build ahead of RWC 2022, confirming their participation will not affect their eligibility to play for the Wallaroos.

“We’re really excited about what Michaela and Bella will bring to Super Rugby Aupiki,” Matatū Head Coach, Blair Baxter said.

“We’ve been following the Super W competition in Australia, and both have been stand out performers there.

“Lock and first five-eighth are two positions where we will need to build some depth over time across the Matatū region, but we know these two athletes will come in and be very competitive at this level.

'They’re also really engaging players and share our club’s passion for growing the game, so they’ll look forward to passing on their knowledge and experience to help develop some local talent right here in New Zealand.” 

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McKenzie was the standout for the dominant Waratahs during this year's Super W, named Player of the Year after a competition high 39 points in three matches, including a personal tally of 15 points in the Super W Final.

Meanwhile, Leonard has become a mainstay of the Brumbies, elevated to captain at the start of the season after cementing her position as part of the Wallaroos group.

2022 Matatū Squad:

Lucy Anderson (Canterbury)

Alana Bremner (Canterbury)

Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury)

Grace Brooker (Canterbury)

Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)

Natalie Delamere (Bay of Plenty)

Amy du Plessis (Canterbury)

Terauoriwa Gapper (Canterbury)

Julia Gorinski (Otago)

Di Hiini (Canterbury)

Renee Holmes (Waikato)

Lucy Jenkins (Canterbury)

Rosie Kelly (Canterbury)

Michaela Leonard (Canberra, ACT)

Pip Love (Canterbury)

Martha Mataele (Canterbury)

Liv McGoverne (Canterbury)

Arabella McKenzie (Walgett, NSW)

Kilisitina Moata'ane (Otago)

Greer Muir (Otago)

Moomooga (Ashley) Palu (Hawke’s Bay)

Marcelle Parkes (Canterbury)

Georgia Ponsonby (Canterbury)

Amy Rule (Canterbury)

Grace Steinmetz (Canterbury)

Steph Te Ohaere-Fox (Canterbury)

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