Bay of Plenty's Luka Connor and Karli Faneva are set to make their test debuts when the Black Ferns play Canada as part of the Women's Rugby Super Series 2019 on Saturday (NZT).

The Bay of Plenty pair, of hooker Luka Connor and loose forward Karli Faneva, along with Counties Manukau halfback Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu and North Harbour No.8 Pia Tapsell
have all been named to make their test debuts from the reserves. Olivia Ward-Duin
is bracketed with Leilani Perese at this stage.

Luka Connor. Photo / Getty Images
Luka Connor. Photo / Getty Images

Tapsell, 20, has been a standout for her province where she has established herself as the most prolific try-scorer in North Harbour women's rugby history.

The Black Ferns play Canada in their first match of the Women's Rugby Super Series 2019 on Saturday (NZT) before they take on USA, France and England between July 3-15.


Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore said his team last played Canada in 2017 and he expected them to be big, strong and fast.

"We know Canada has one of the best scrums – if not the best – scrum in the world and we know they like to be physical. They've certainly got pace, so we expect them to bring a lot to the game," Moore said.

"We've recovered well from our travel and have been preparing for this for months now. Everyone can't wait to get out there and play."

Moore said the coaching team had been watching Tapsell closely for the past two years.

"She's a very physical player and a good ball carrier and she came through strongly in the match against the Barbarians. Pia thoroughly deserves her start."

He made special mention of Marino-Tauhinu, who spent time with the Black Ferns without taking the field in the past, saying she had earned her recall through hard work for her province.

Centre Carla Hohepa and prop Toka Natua will wear the black jersey for the first time since the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup final in Belfast.

Hohepa, 33, took time out to have a baby and Moore said the speedy Waikato mid-fielder/wing was back to her best form and eager to make her mark in the series.


"Carla is a very experienced player and we've always believed she is world class. She's worked hard to get back in great physical shape and shown some good signs in all the lead-up games. She's also part of our leadership group and is influential on and off the field."

The team:
(Number of tests in brackets, *indicates debut)
Toka Natua (16)
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (24)
Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (29)
Eloise Blackwell (37)
Charmaine Smith (21)
Charmaine McMenamin (19)
Les Elder (Captain, 13)
Pia Tapsell*
Kendra Cocksedge (Vice captain, 47)
Ruahei Demant (5)
Ayesha Leti-I'iga (3)
Chelsea Alley (18)
Carla Hohepa (19)
Renee Wickliffe (35)
Selica Winiata (Vice captain, 36)
Luka Connor*
Phillipa Love (7)
Leilani Perese (5) / Olivia Ward-Duin*
Karli Faneva*
Marcelle Parkes (2)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu*
Krysten Cottrell (5)
Alena Saili (2)

Black Ferns' fixtures at Women's Rugby Super Series 2019:
Where: Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, San Diego, USA.
Black Ferns v Canada, June 29, 11am (NZT).
Black Ferns v USA, July 3, 12.15pm (NZT).
Black Ferns v France, July 7, 9.15am (NZT).
Black Ferns v England, July 15, 8am (NZT).