Source: Andrea Cardin - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Black Ferns Squad named for end of year Tests 

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Black Ferns coaches Allan Bunting, Steve Jackson, Mike Delany and Tony Christie have named their 30 player squad to compete at home in front of their Black Ferns fans for their final Test match of the O’Reilly Cup, presented by Ryman Healthcare and the inagural WXV1 tournament.

The Black Ferns team is (Age/Super Club/Province/Test caps):
Loosehead Props

Kate Henwood (34, Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty, 2)
Krystal Murray (30, Hurricanes Poua, Northland, 10)
Chryss Viliko (20, Blues, Auckland, new cap)

Georgia Ponsonby (23, Matatū, Canterbury, 16)
Luka Connor (26, Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty, 16)
Natalie Delamere (26, Matatū, Bay of Plenty, 3)

Tighthead Props
Amy Rule (23, Matatū, Canterbury, 16)
Sophie Fisher (24, Blues, Auckland, new cap)
Tanya Kalounivale (24, Chiefs Manawa, Waikato, 8)

Charmaine Smith (31, Chiefs Manawa, Northland, 27)
Chelsea Bremner (28, Chiefs Manawa, Canterbury, 15)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (22, Blues, Auckland, 17)

Loose Forwards
Alana Bremner (26, Matatū, Canterbury, 15)
Kennedy Simon (26, Chiefs Manawa, Waikato, 16) – Co-Captain
Layla Sae (22, Hurricanes Poua, Manawatū, new cap)
Liana Mikaele Tu’u (21, Blues, Auckland, 14)
Lucy Jenkins (22, Matatū, Canterbury, 2)

Ariana Bayler (26, Blues, Waikato, 7)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (31, Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau, 15)
Iritana Hohaia (23, Hurricanes Poua, Taranaki, 3)

First Five-Eighths
Rosie Kelly (23, Matatū, Canterbury, 3)
Ruahei Demant (28, Blues, Auckland, 29) – Co-Captain

Amy du Plessis (24, Matatū, Canterbury, 10)
Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt (19, Blues, Auckland, 9)
Patricia Maliepo (20, Blues, Auckland, 3)

Outside Backs
Katelyn Vahaakolo (23, Blues, Auckland, 2)
Martha Mataele (24, Matatū, Canterbury, new cap)
Mererangi Paul (24, Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau, 2)
Renee Holmes (23, Matatū, Waikato, 13)
Ruby Tui (31, Counties Manukau, 10)

Unavailable for selection due to injury: Ayesha Leti-I’iga (knee), Awhina Tangen Wainohu (neck), Charmaine McMenamin (knee), Santo Taumata (knee).

Following stand out performances in the Farah Palmer Cup (FPC), presented by Bunnings Warehouse, form has been rewarded with the selection of the 30-player squad.

With a focus on continuing to build depth within the Black Ferns squad, Manawatū Cyclone’s loose forward Layla Sae, Canterbury wing Martha Mataele, and the Auckland Storm duo of loosehead prop Chryss Viliko and tighthead prop Sophie Fisher, have been selected in the Black Ferns playing squad for the first time.

Mataele has been illusive for Canterbury on the wing and has made a strong impression on the Black Ferns coaching group. Energetic loose forward, Sae has been a consistent performer for Manawatū after returning from injury. Mobile and youthful Viliko tops off her season alongside Auckland Storm teammate Fisher, who has worked at her craft and has been rewarded with a place in the squad.

“It has been a very tough selection for our coaching group, which demonstrates the growth in our women’s game and a reflection our depth is certainly building. Our new players have really stood out in several important behaviours we value. All of which we have been looking for in this year’s Farah Palmer Cup,” said Black Ferns Director of Rugby Bunting.

“It is an exciting opportunity for them to come on this journey and look to continue their growth both on and off the field. The future of our internal competition is exciting to see.”

The Black Ferns will welcome back tenacious lock Charmaine Smith after capping off an exceptional year with the Northland Kauri in their domestic campaign. Smith will return to the Black Ferns squad for the first time since 2019.

“Charmaine has been inspirational in her return to the game. The perseverance and work-ethic she demonstrates is outstanding both on and off the field. We are thrilled to have her back in our Black Ferns environment, and we are excited to see what impact she will have,” said Bunting.

In addition to Smith, Auckland midfielder Patricia Maliepo returns from injury, Bay of Plenty hooker Natalie Delamere and Waikato halfback Ariana Bayler earn selection for the first time this year while Counties Manukau winger Ruby Tui returns to international duties following her sabbatical.

The Black Ferns will play their first game on home soil for the 2023 season, when they take on the Wallaroos at FMG Stadium, Waikato. The O’Reilly Cup, presented by Ryman Healthcare will be the Black Ferns’ final fixture before embarking on the inaugural WXV1 tournament.

“We are looking forward to the upcoming months. To have the opportunity for our whānau and fans to see the team in action is special. We are excited about the challenge that lies ahead, the importance of building our foundations for the future and to have that here in Aotearoa will be precious for us. The way the country got behind our Black Ferns last year, and again have done so with the Football Ferns this year, it is special. And we are looking forward to seeing that support again,” Bunting said.

All matches of the O’Reilly Cup, presented by Ryman Healthcare and WXV1 will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

Schedule (New Zealand times and dates listed)
O’Reilly Cup, presented by Ryman Healthcare:
Black Ferns vs Australia, 50 – 0, BRISBANE
Black Ferns vs Australia, Saturday 30 September, 4.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato, HAMILTON

Black Ferns v France, Saturday 21 October, 7.00pm, Sky Stadium, WELLINGTON
Black Ferns v Wales, Saturday 28 October, 4.00pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium, DUNEDIN
Black Ferns v England, Saturday 4 November, 7.00pm, Go Media Stadium, AUCKLAND

With thanks to New Zealand Rugby