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Tasman Women named to play Volcanix

Tasman Women's rugby captain Jess Foster prefers to lead by example.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Tasman Women's rugby captain Jess Foster prefers to lead by example.

Jess Foster isn't letting a dodgy shoulder slow her down.

The Tasman Women's rugby team captain has certainly ticked the inspiration box in terms of her leadership. So despite ongoing shoulder issues, the rugged No 8 will definitely be leading the side against the Bay of Plenty Volcanix in round four of the Farah Palmer Cup competition in Tauranga on Sunday.

Foster popped her shoulder in Tasman's 25-17 first round loss to Waikato in Blenheim but rather than take the easy option and leave the field, she battled through the pain after treatment to almost lead the team to an upset win.

"Obviously adrenaline gets you through in those situations," Foster said. "I've done it multiple times. I probably should have removed myself, but I can't help myself."

She also played in Tasman's disappointing 82-0 second round loss to Otago in Dunedin although recognising a lost cause, Tasman's coaches dragged her early from the field. Now, two weeks of treatment and last week's bye have again left her determined to front on Sunday.

​It will be a return to familiar territory for the 26-year-old apprentice glazier as Foster and Tasman and Waimea Old Boys team-mate and hooker Stephani Mitchell both played for the Bay of Plenty side that finished bottom of last year's nine-team competition. 

However, Bay of Plenty are unbeaten so far this season following a 10-10 opening round draw with Auckland, a 24-10 win over Hawke's Bay and a 34-12 win over North Harbour.

The return of key backs, Risi Pouri-Lane, Jess Drummond, Wairakau Greig and Sydnee Wilkins, who all missed the Otago loss, will significantly boost Tasman's chances.

"We'll have a full-strength team coming into this weekend, so I think that'll help with the trust, I think that may have been lacking a little bit [against Otago] with the key players missing. 

"A lot of these girls obviously haven't played in this competition, so the travel and everything pre-game is quite new to them and dealing with that and having some processes in place and getting used to that.

Foster, Mitchell, New Zealand Sevens extended squad members Pouri-Lane and Drummond and Cook Islands representative Greig all have big roles to play.

"We've had a little bit of a taste of it but everyone else ... it's a huge step for them and once you play a couple of games you realise, ok this is the level and you step up to it.

"But until then, until you've been out there and played at that pace and with the big hits ... it has been massive but all the girls have put in a lot of commitment and effort.

"This season we'll be putting patterns in place and things that we can build on for next year so when we come in, everyone knows what's happening and we can just build it from there."

Despite the heavy loss in Dunedin, Foster said that the trip south was important for team bonding. The week off had also helped.

"We needed to recoup after the game down in Dunedin that's for sure. I think the girls definitely needed a break to get grounded and take on Bay of Plenty."

Foster and Mitchell at least know what to expect from their former team-mates.

"I'd say it'll be a big battle up front and we've got speed to burn, but so have they. So I think all around the park it'll be a real battle and very physical ... they'll bring it to us.

"It'll be a fight on the paddock, but it'll be good to catch up afterwards."

As for the captaincy, Foster admits she prefers to lead by her actions.

"It's a bit of a challenge. It's [about] being able to switch on and play your game but also lead from the front. I'm not much of a talker, I'm more of a doer so hopefully the girls respond to that."

Sunday's televised game kicks off at the Tauranga Domain at 12.05pm and is the curtainrasier to the Mitre 10 Cup clash between Bay of Plenty and Counties Manukau.

HOW THEY LINE UP

TASMAN WOMEN: Sydnee Wilkins, Pippa Andrews, Wairakau Greig, Staci Kohe, Michelle Curry, Risi Pouri-Lane, Rosie Buchanan-Brown, Jess Foster (c), Kelly Stanford, Tamara Silcock, Hannah Gillespie, Courtney Clarke, Kelly Couper, Stephani Mitchell, Stacey Davis. Reserves: Naomi Tiumalu, Ashley Ulutupu, Shellie Barry, Ashleigh Nathan, Dana Wilson, Jess Drummond, Fern Hoskin.