The departure of three Tauranga-based sevens players has forced Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore into several changes to the successful Women's Rugby Super Series 2019 squad.
Kelly Brazier, Theresa Fitzpatrick and Alena Saili have returned to their Black Ferns Sevens camp in Tauranga in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. Their departure has opened the door for Grace Brooker, Kilisitina Moata'ane and Jackie Patea-Fereti to be called up for the Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy series against Australia next month.
Canterbury's Brooker has been named in the travelling squad for the first time, and Wellington's Patea-Fereti rejoins the squad after recovering from injury.
The Black Ferns play in Perth on August 10 and Auckland on August 17 as part of double-header matches with the All Blacks during their Bledisloe Cup series against Australia.
Moore said Patea-Fereti made a significant contribution to the side in 2018 and he was pleased to include her in the Laurie O'Reilly series now that she was back playing club rugby following an injury earlier in the year.
"Jackie has a wealth of experience in the lineout, she's versatile and brings physicality. She was a major asset to the team last year and we're very pleased she's back."
Brooker, 20, has been in the wider Black Ferns squad for the past two years and impressed at training camps and provincial level.
"Grace had an outstanding season for Canterbury last year and her selection is thoroughly deserved. She's a huge talent and can play at midfield and fullback and we're excited to see what she can bring at this level."
Otago's Moata'ane is also a step closer to making her Black Ferns debut after twice being selected previously only for late injuries to prevent her from taking her place in the squad.
"Kilisitina has demonstrated fantastic resilience to continue to train hard and secure her spot, despite her setbacks. We're looking forward to giving her an opportunity in the black jersey."
Moore said bringing in new players gave the team a chance to try new combinations and continue to build depth at test level.
The Black Ferns returned to New Zealand from San Diego with the Women's Rugby Super Series trophy after wins against Canada, US and England, and a loss against France.
Moore said the team had improved during the series and would need to be prepared for a very competitive Australian side.
"Australia have just had a successful series against Japan and women's rugby is going from strength to strength across the Tasman as players gain more game time at a higher level.
"The Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy is the equivalent of the Bledisloe Cup, it means a great deal to both sides and we're determined to retain it," he said.
Canterbury's Pip Love was unavailable due to injury.
There is one other uncapped player in the squad, North Harbour's Olivia Ward-Duin, who travelled to San Diego but didn't take the field.
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Black Ferns squad:
Hookers: Forne Burkin (Canterbury), Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty), Te Kura Ngata-Aerengemate (Northland).
Props: Toka Natua (Waikato), Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (Auckland), Leilani Perese (Counties Manukau), Olivia Ward-Duin (North Harbour).
Locks: Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Karli Faneva (Bay of Plenty), Joanah Ngan-Woo (Wellington), Jackie Patea-Fereti (Wellington), Charmaine Smith (Auckland).
Loose forwards: Les Elder - (c, Bay of Plenty), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Marcelle Parkes (Wellington), Pia Tapsell (North Harbour).
Halfbacks: Kendra Cocksedge - (vc, Canterbury), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau).
Midfield: Chelsea Alley (Waikato), Grace Brooker (Canterbury), Krysten Cottrell (Hawke's Bay), Ruahei Demant (Auckland), Kilisitina Moata'ane (Otago).
Outside backs: Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Ayesha Leti-I'iga (Wellington), Natahlia Moors (Auckland), Renee Wickliffe (Bay of Plenty), Selica Winiata - (vc, Manawatu).
Saturday, August 10
Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy
Black Ferns v Australia, Optus Stadium, Perth
Kickoff: 7pm (NZT)
All Blacks v Australia, Optus Stadium, Perth
Kickoff – 9.45pm (NZT)
Saturday, August 17
Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy
Black Ferns v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland
Kickoff: 5pm (NZT)
All Blacks v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland
Kickoff: 7:35pm (NZT)