Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore has named a squad of 28, to take on the Australian Wallaroos in this month’s two-test series, as preparation for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 starts to ramp up.
Moore said he and his coaching team were confident they had selected a skilled squad which was strong across the board.
“We have a great forward pack and very talented backs. We don’t know much about the Wallaroos but the Laurie O'Reilly Cup is on the line and like all Australian teams they will be determined to perform strongly against New Zealand."
The first match against the Australian side is a double header with the All Blacks Bledisloe match at Eden Park on Saturday 22 October. The Black Ferns will play the Australian Wallaroos again at QBE Stadium on the North Shore on Wednesday 26 October.
Olympic Games silver medallists Kelly Brazier (main picture), Sarah Goss and Portia Woodman (pictured below) were included in the squad along with New Zealand sevens players Honey Hireme, Hazel Tubic, Janna Vaughan, Selica Winiata and Carla Hohepa (returning from injury).
The sevens trio were eligible for selection after playing in the Farah Palmer Cup.
“To be selected you’ve got to be the best player in those positions. That won’t change. The standard of the Farah Palmer Cup has been outstanding so we've been spoilt for choice,” said Moore.
Moore said the focus leading into 2017 was on building the depth of the squad.
“Come next year we want to make sure players are putting a lot of pressure on each other for positions. We’ve selected a squad that has a lot of experience in it but there's also a young look to the side and some players have a low number of caps.
The squad also includes debutants Aotearoa Matua, a 19-year-old prop from Counties Manukau; Kristina Sue, a Manawatu halfback; and Sharnita Woodman, a loose forward from Counties Manukau.
“Everything’s being done with a look to the World Cup next year and it’s a huge motivator for the team. We're really looking forward to playing in front of our friends and family at home before we head offshore.”
New Zealand women's squad:
Backs - Chelsea Alley, Kelly Brazier, Kendra Cocksedge, Honey Hireme, Carla Hohepa, Victoria Subritzky, Nafatali, Kristina Sue, Hazel Tubic,
Janna Vaughan, Renee Wickliffe, Selica Winiata, Portia Woodman
Forwards - Eloise Blackwell, Rawinia Everitt, Fiao'o Fa'amausili, Sarah Goss, Charlene Gubb, Aldora Itunu, Pip Love, Aotearoa Matau,
Charmaine McMenamin, Toka Natua, Aleisha Nelson, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Aroha Savage, Angie Sisifa, Charmaine Smith, Sharnita Woodman
Saturday, 22 October: Black Ferns v Australian Wallaroos, Eden Park, Auckland
Wednesday, 26 October, Black Ferns v Australian Wallaroos, QBE Stadium, North Shore