Two new caps highlight the Black Ferns' first squad of 2017.

The 30 names for the June home international series with Canada, Australia and England feature North Harbour lock Rebecca Wood and Auckland centre Theresa Fitzpatrick.

The latter is a penetrative midfielder who knows her way to the tryline, and would have made the squad last October but for injury. She has played four tournaments for the Black Ferns Sevens.

Wood played six games in the second row for North Harbour Hibiscus last year.

Advertisement

Head coach Glenn Moore says Fitzpatrick brings huge talent and is 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 says he'd been impressed with Wood's depth of character, resilience and skill.

"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."

The majority of the players named are likely, barring injury, to form the core of the 28-strong Women's Rugby World Cup squad. The event is held in August in Ireland.

"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.

"There's a lot of character here and a lot of people here with really good work ethic and a desire to do well," Moore says.

"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."

Twenty-four of the group played in 2016, where the Black Ferns went beaten in five tests, while half a dozen are coming almost straight from the Black Ferns Sevens programme.

The wider WRWC training squad includes a further seven players who will continue to train in regional hubs.

Those 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).

Nathan-Wong is seen more as a sevens specialist, but has potential as a 15 player, while veteran halfback Emma Jensen sits on a record 49 caps for the Black Ferns.

Black Ferns squad:
Forwards: Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Rawinia Everitt (Counties Manukau), Fiao'o Fa'amausili (Auckland, c), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Linda Itunu (Auckland), Lesley Ketu (Waikato), Justin 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), Angie Sisifa (Otago), Charmaine Smith (North Harbour), Sosoli Talawadua (Waikato), Rebecca Wood (North Harbour)

Backs: 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)


2017 International Women's Rugby Series
Friday June 9: Wellington
Black Ferns v Canada, Westpac Stadium (followed by Hurricanes v Chiefs)
Australia v England, Porirua Park

Tuesday June 13: Christchurch
Black Ferns v Australia, Rugby Park
Canada v England, Rugby Park

Saturday June 17: Rotorua
Black Ferns v England, Rotorua International Stadium (followed by Maori All Blacks v Lions)
Australia v Canada, Smallbone Park