The Black Ferns squad for June’s International Women’s Rugby Series has been named, and it includes two newcomers.
The side will take on Canada, Australia and England in a home series in the lead-up to the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland in August.
Coach, Glenn Moore, said the majority of the players named were likely to form the squad for the upcoming tournament.
“While the World Cup is the pinnacle event we have three very important home Tests. Players are very excited about it and the home Tests are an opportunity for us to try some of the things against the same opposition we will face at World Cup, without showing too much.”
Rebecca Wood (North Harbour) and Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland) have been named in the squad for the first time.
Moore said Fitzpatrick brought huge talent and was able to play at both 12 and 13.
“She’s got some pace and some real skills and attributes around those positions. She’s a strong defender and she thoroughly deserves her selection.”
Moore said he’d been impressed with Wood’s resilience and depth of character.
“Becky is a firefighter and she has a lot of courage. She was someone we had on our radar last year. She’s fairly new to the game, but leading up to this her talent and character really stood out.”
“There’s a lot of character here and a lot of people here with really good work ethic and a desire to do well.
“We have had a vision for how we want to play the game, and for the last couple of years we have been progressively building that. We’re looking to advance year-on-year and I think we’ve made good strides there.”
The squad is (*denotes new player):
Eloise Blackwell (Auckland)
Rawinia Everitt (Counties Manukau)
Fiao’o Faamausili (c) (Auckland)
Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
Aldora Itunu (Auckland)
Linda Itunu (Auckland)
Lesley Ketu (Bay of Plenty)
Justine Lavea (Counties Manukau)
Pip Love (Canterbury)
Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland)
Toka Natua (Waikato)
Aleisha Nelson (Auckland)
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties Manukau)
Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau)
Angelene Sisifa (Otago)
Charmaine Smith (North Harbour)
Sosoli Talawadua (Waikato)
Rebecca Wood* (North Harbour)
Chelsea Alley (Waikato)
Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)
Theresa Fitzpatrick* (Auckland)
Honey Hireme (Waikato)
Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali (Counties Manukau)
Kristina Sue (Manawatu)
Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)
Janna Vaughan (Manawatu)
Stacey Waaka (Waikato)
Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau)
Selica Winiata (Manawatu)
Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)
The wider World Cup training squad includes a further seven players who will continue to train in regional hubs.
The seven players are: Charlene Gubb (Auckland), Jessie Hansen (Christchurch), Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Emma Jensen (Auckland), Aotearoa Mata’u (Counties Manukau), Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland), and Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox (Canterbury).
2017 International Women’s Rugby Series:
Friday, 9 June – Wellington
Black Ferns v Canada, Westpac Stadium (followed by Hurricanes v Chiefs)
Australia v England, Porirua Park
Tuesday, 13 June – Christchurch
Black Ferns v Australia, Rugby Park
Canada v England, Rugby Park
Saturday, 17 June – Rotorua
Black Ferns v England, Rotorua International Stadium (followed by Maori All Blacks v British and Irish Lions)
Australia v Canada, Smallbone Park