Collins earns Football Ferns call up

Helen Collins, centre, has been named in the Football Ferns squad. Photo / Ben Fraser
Helen Collins, centre, has been named in the Football Ferns squad. Photo / Ben Fraser

Striker Helen Collins has been rewarded for her form in domestic football with a first call-up to the New Zealand women's side for next month's Cyprus Cup.

Waikato-based Collins is only new player to the Football Ferns squad, although goalkeeper Erin Nayler is also uncapped at senior international level. Collins is a former age-group international with a formidable record at local level.

"Helen has dominated the domestic scene for a few years now in the ASB Women's League and regional competitions and she gets her opportunity to try and replicate that form at international level," coach Tony Readings said. "She brings something a bit different into the attacking mix. She's direct and physically imposing with great finishing abilities."

Collins was the leading scorer in the ASB Women's League with 10 goals in six games for WaiBOP as well as 45 goals for Claudelands in the northern regional league.

The 24-year-old played for New Zealand at the Oceania under-20 women's championship in Samoa in 2006 and was part of the squad that travelled to the world cup in Russia that year making two appearances off the bench.

Injury has ruled out incumbent custodian Jenny Bindon, giving former cricket international Rebecca Rolls and Junior Football Ferns No 1 Erin Nayler an opportunity.

New Zealand have been drawn in a group with England, Italy and Scotland for the Cyprus Cup to be held from March 6-13. The Cyprus Cup is an annual invitational tournament first created in 2008 - New Zealand first attended in 2009 and has been invited every year since.

"We're pleased to be attending again," Readings said. "The Cyprus Cup has become a big part of our annual preparation."

It will be the first time the Football Ferns have played since last year's Olympic Games, when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 12-team competition, and first time since securing $800,000 funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand for both 2013 and 2014.

They opened the Games against Great Britain, going down 1-0 in a disappointing performance. The Great Britain squad featured 16 English players and two Scots.

New Zealand women's football squad to play at the Cyprus Cup from March 6-13: Goalkeepers: Erin Nayler (Eastern Suburbs), Rebecca Rolls (Fencibles); Defenders: Ria Percival (USV Jena, Germany), Anna Green (Lokomotive Leipzig, Germany), Abby Erceg (Adelaide United, Australia), Rebecca Smith (captain, VfL Wolfsburg, Germany), Ali Riley (LdB Malmo, Sweden), Bridgette Armstrong (Glenfield Rovers), Rebecca Stott (SC Sand, Germany); Midfielders: Katie Hoyle (unattached), Hayley Bowden (Chelsea, England), Kirsty Yallop (Vittsjo, Sweden), Betsy Hassett (SC Sand, Germany), Annalie Longo (Sydney FC, Australia), Katie Bowen (University North Carolina, USA), Holly Patterson (unattached); Forwards: Amber Hearn (USV Jena, Germany), Sarah Gregorius (Bad Neunahr, Germany), Rosie White (UCLA, USA), Hannah Wilkinson (University of Tennessee, USA), Helen Collins (Claudelands Rovers).

- APNZ

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