Rugby: Fresh faces for Black Ferns test series against Australia

By Campbell Burnes

Sarah Goss  and Kelly Brazier, who won silver medals at the Rio Olympics, have been included in the Black Ferns squad to take on Australia.
Sarah Goss and Kelly Brazier, who won silver medals at the Rio Olympics, have been included in the Black Ferns squad to take on Australia.

The Black Ferns have named three debutantes for the two-test series against the Australian Wallaroos starting next week.

They are 19-year-old Counties Manukau Heat prop Aotearoa Matau, Manawatu Cyclones halfback Kristina Sue, and Heat flanker Sharnita Woodman.

The Black Ferns, now in full preparation mode for next year's Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland, will play on October 22 at Eden Park, as curtainraiser to the Bledisloe Cup test, and again on October 26 at QBE Stadium in Albany.

Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore has named a squad of 28, with a 16-12 forwards-backs split.

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."

Olympic Games silver medallists Kelly Brazier, Sarah Goss and Portia Woodman were included in the squad along with Black Ferns Sevens players Honey Hireme, Hazel Tubic, Janna Vaughan, Selica Winiata and Carla Hohepa (returning from injury).

The Black Ferns Sevens players 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."

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.

"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."

A feature of the side is the selection of eight players from the Heat, who won the Farah Palmer Cup, while Auckland, which traditionally features a large share of the squad, have just six, but no backs.

Justine Lavea, Linda Itunu, Lesley Ketu and Stacey Waaka were unavailable for selection due to injury.

The Black Ferns will next month tour England and Ireland for a three-match programme.

Black Ferns squad to play the Wallaroos later this month:

Backs: Chelsea Alley (North Harbour), Kelly Brazier (Otago), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Honey Hireme (Waikato), Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Victoria Subritzsky-Nafatali (Counties Manukau), Kristine Sue (Manawatu), Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau), Janna Vaughan (Manawatu), Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau), Selica Winiata (Manawatu), Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)

Forwards: Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Rawinia Everitt (Auckland), Fiao'o Fa'amausili (Auckland), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Charlene Gubb (Auckland), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Pip Love (Canterbury), Aotearoa Matau (Counties Manukau), Charmaine McNemamin (Auckland), Toka Natua (Waikato), Aleisha Nelson (Auckland), Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties Manukau), Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau), Angie Sisifa (Otago), Charmaine Smith (North Harbour), Sharnita Woodman (Counties Manukau)

- NZ Herald

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