There have been 16 father and son All Blacks. Names like Fitzpatrick, Oliver, Dalton and Mexted are famed members of the All Black family roll of honour. Now meet Liza Mihinui and Huriana Manuel of Auckland - the first mother and daughter Black Ferns.

In fact, it is possible they are the only mother and daughter internationals in world rugby, although women's rugby still doesn't quite have the statistical background and network of the men's version.

Not that it isn't catching up fast. The Black Ferns - with Huriana on board and hoping to add to her three caps - leave next month for the women's Rugby World Cup in Edmonton and with a strong case to maintain the Black Ferns' enviable win-loss record and their sole possession of the World Cup.

Liza, now 45, was "a single mother of four kids looking for something else to do other than working and bringing up kids". She was invited to the Auckland Marist clubrooms one day in the early '90s for a training run and loved it, coming into contact for the first time with Darryl Suasua, soon to become the Black Ferns coach.

"It was great," said Liza. "It was just what I was looking for - something to do physically and, for some reason, the game just suited me, although I was only small then."

She also found herself suited to the front row and hooker in particular.

The Black Ferns were established in 1990 and they and women's rugby have grown so much that they now have a wide and deep coaching and support structure - something Liza finds the biggest change since her Black Ferns season of 1994.

"They have coaches, doctors, physios, trainers, technical analysts - it is really professional now, just like the men," she said.

It is a far cry from 1994, when Liza had to use her holidays to go to training. She worked for a printing firm in the graveyard 6pm to 2am shift. The only way she could get to training was to take her annual leave as a series of half days, train - and then head off for an all-night session at work.

She was rewarded with a place in the Black Ferns that year and she can remember her three matches in detail - beat ACT 87-0, New South Wales 85-0 and Australia 37-0. At least, there's no difficulty remembering who scored for the Aussies...

But that was it. After a year, aged 33, Liza decided enough was enough and a young player called Farah Palmer - who became the long-time Ferns captain and skippers them in Canada next month - had arrived.

Meanwhile, Huriana, now 19, was wowing them in the junior grades. The boys' junior grades, that is. "Living around our neighbourhood, it was pretty much all boys playing footy," said Liza. "Huriana started off as an eight-year-old playing league for the Papatoetoe Panthers and she was so good, she used to win prizes all the time for her play."

A call-up to the national team came last year and Huriana, a centre, played against Canada twice and Ireland and is hoping for more game time at the World Cup. In another big change to her mother's time, Huriana is pretty much a full-time footballer - paid a semi-professional wage and she is one of the few women at the Auckland rugby academy. She also won a Prime Minister's scholarship last year.

The Ferns leave for Canada on August 26 and play Canada, Samoa and Scotland in pool play - a tough schedule. They are coached by former Auckland coach Jed Rowlands and assisted by former No 8 Dale Atkins, one of the heroes of Canterbury's Ranfurly Shield reign of the '80s.