Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore has named a 34-player squad for the upcoming tour of England and France which includes 36-year-old Kihikihi and Waikato back Carla Hohepa.
Hohepa first debuted for the Black Ferns in 2007 where she scored two tries against Australia and in 2010 the talented and fast-paced winger scored the only try in the World Cup Final win over England.
Hohepa was part of the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup-winning squad too.
The player was also a star at Sevens, making her debut for the Black Ferns Sevens in 2013 and playing for the side in 2014 and 2015.
Les Elder returns to Captain the Black Ferns after missing the 2020 season while Portia Woodman, Kelly Brazier and Stacey Fluhler have been selected after winning an Olympic gold with the Black Ferns Sevens.
"Les is a crucial part of our set-up, she's an outstanding player, leads from the front and has the ability to galvanize people around her. Ella [Blackwell] did a great job last year when we had the domestic hit out, she and Kendra are named as vice-captains, and I'm confident this leadership group will do an outstanding job," said Moore.
Just under half of the squad named will be in line for their international debut next month, with 12 debutants and a further four players whose only experience in the black jersey was last year's domestic series.
Outside backs Renee Wickliffe and Ayesha Leti-I'iga return from injury and are joined by sevens exponents Woodman, Brazier and Cheyelle Robins-Reti in an explosive outside backs group.
Moore has shown faith in an exciting group of youngsters, with teens Patricia Maliepo and Liana Mikaele-Tu'u selected alongside 20-year-olds Dhys Faleafaga and Maia Roos.
Selection conversations were thrown a curveball when the latest Covid-19 outbreak forced a halt to the Bunnings Warehouse Farah Palmer Cup, which Moore said changed how the selectors looked at assembling the squad.
"The lockdown probably did mean some players weren't able to cement their positions in the squad and it meant we had to reflect more on the early rounds of Farah Palmer Cup and some of the situational games we'd played in camps this year. This would be one of the most difficult selection processes I can recall in my time in rugby," said Moore.
"We've had to take a Covid mindset to ensure enough coverage across all positions because calling on a replacement is not as easy as it usually would be.
"With a World Cup just around the corner, this programme is critical for us. We're playing against two of the best teams in the world and they've come off Six Nations so we need to make sure we're doing everything we can under these conditions to be prepared."
The squad has an average age of 26, and a total of 399 caps' experience.
Halfback Kendra Cocksedge has the potential to become the most-capped Black Ferns player of all time on this tour, surpassing Fiao'o Faamausili.
New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia are still investigating the possibility of an O'Reilly Cup fixture after the original series in New Zealand was cancelled.
2021 Black Ferns squad (with age, provincial union and test caps in brackets):
Grace Houpapa-Barrett (26, Waikato, new cap)
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (29, Counties Manukau, 29)
Georgia Ponsonby (21, Canterbury, new cap)
Tanya Kalounivale (22, Waikato, new cap)
Aldora Itunu (30, Auckland, 20)
Phillipa Love (31, Canterbury, 11)
Krystal Murray (28, Northland, new cap)
Aleisha Nelson (31, Auckland, 35)
Amy Rule (21, Canterbury, new cap)
Eloise Blackwell (30, Auckland, 43) - vice-captain
Joanah Ngan-Woo (25, Wellington, 3)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (20, Auckland, new cap)
Kelsie Wills (28, Bay of Plenty, 0)
Alana Bremner (24, Canterbury, new cap)
Les Elder (34, Bay of Plenty, 18) - captain
Dhys Faleafaga (20, Wellington, new cap)
Liana Mikaele Tu'u (19, Auckland, new cap)
Kendra Reynolds (28, Bay of Plenty, 0)
Kennedy Simon (24, Waikato, 4)
Ariana Bayler (24, Waikato, new cap)
Kendra Cocksedge (33, Canterbury, 53) - vice-captain
Iritana Hohaia (21, Taranaki, new cap)
Ruahei Demant (26, Auckland, 11)
Patricia Maliepo (18, Auckland, new cap)
Chelsea Alley (28, Waikato, 24)
Grace Brooker (22, Canterbury, 1)
Stacey Fluhler (25, Waikato, 16)
Carla Hohepa (36, Waikato, 25)
Kelly Brazier (31, Bay of Plenty, 40)
Renee Holmes (21, Waikato, 0)
Ayesha Leti-I'iga (22, Wellington, 9)
Renee Wickliffe (34, Bay of Plenty, 41)
Portia Woodman (30, Northland, 16)
Cheyelle Robins-Reti (22, Waikato, 0)
Unavailable for selection: Charmaine McMenamin, Pia Tapsell, Lisa Molia, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Langi Veainu, Aroha Savage, Toka Natua, Kilisitina Moata'ane.
Black Fern debutants:
Born: December 14, 1996
Waikato halfback Ariana Bayler's journey to the Black Ferns has been one of persistence, the talented youngster suffering three ACL injuries in her career to date.
The former Hamilton Girls' High School student made her Farah Palmer Cup debut as a 16-year-old and has been a key member of the resurgent Waikato team in recent years.
Born: February 10, 1997
Position: Loose Forward
The 23-year-old Canterbury captain had a breakthrough season in 2020, leading her side to their fourth consecutive Farah Palmer Cup title and bagging eight tries to be their top try scorer for the season.
She was the first women's player to notch up 50 matches for Lincoln University, and this year brought up 50 caps for Canterbury.
In 2019, she played three matches for the New Zealand Development side and in 2020, captained the NZ Barbarians in the two-match series against the Black Ferns.
Her older sister, Chelsea, made her Black Ferns debut last year.
Born: October 17, 2000
Position: Loose Forward
Dhys Faleafaga made a name for herself at high school, starting for the St Mary's College 1st XV which won the national title in 2017.
She was called into the Black Ferns Sevens squad as an injury replacement in 2019 and made her debut in Kitakyushu, Japan.
While injury has hampered her progress in the game she has made every opportunity count, impressing for Wellington in the Farah Palmer Cup and in her time with the Black Ferns Sevens.
Born: March 1, 2000
Iritana Hohaia hails from Ōpunake in Taranaki and began playing club rugby at Coastal as a child.
Having also played representative basketball, Hohaia was a member of the gold medal-winning New Zealand Sevens team at the Youth Olympics in 2018, scoring a try in the final victory over France.
Hohaia was Taranaki Whio's Player of the Year in 2019.
Born: July 25, 1995
Grace Houpapa-Barrett made her provincial debut for Waikato as a teenager in 2014.
She has played all three front-row positions across six seasons. Houpapa-Barrett was named in the Barbarians team in 2020, played in the inaugural women's Super Rugby match for the Chiefs and in 2021 captained her club, Ōtorohanga.
Born: January 20, 1999
Tanya Kalounivale was born and raised in Fiji, moving to New Zealand after completing her schooling.
The powerful front-rower had an impressive season for Waikato and was named in the Black Ferns squad in 2020 but did not play due to injury.
Born: March 13, 2003
Position: First five-eighth
Patricia Maliepo burst on to the Farah Palmer Cup scene as a 16-year-old in 2019 and immediately impressed with her skillset and vision.
Having played both first five-eighth and fullback at domestic level, Maliepo was a standout player for the NZ Barbarians in 2020 and starred for the Blues in the inaugural women's Super Rugby match.
Born: March 2, 2002
Position: Loose Forward
Liana Mikaele-Tu'u made her debut in the Farah Palmer Cup for Hawke's Bay while still at Hastings Girls' High School.
The teenager moved to Auckland for university and continued to rise in the ranks, playing for Auckland and in the first-ever Blues women's team.
She is the younger sister of Highlanders loose forward Marino Mikaele-Tu'u.
Born: June 16, 1993
Krystal Murray's selection in the Black Ferns will see her become a double international, having previously played for the Kiwi Ferns including playing at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Murray has played at both prop and number 8 for Northland and is the Union's top women's point scorer. She is the leading try-scorer in the 2021 Farah Palmer Cup.
Born: December 14, 1999
Georgia Ponsonby debuted for Manawatū in the Farah Palmer Cup in 2017, her last year at Feilding High School.
Ponsonby moved to Christchurch to attend Lincoln University and has been a part of the Canterbury Farah Palmer Cup for their past three championships.
Originally a number 8, Ponsonby has only recently moved to the front row and she immediately impressed.
Born: July 27, 2001
Auckland youngster Maia Roos has quickly risen through the rugby ranks, debuting for the Auckland Storm in 2019 and forming a strong partnership in the middle row with Eloise Blackwell.
Roos was Head Girl at Tamaki College, she played two matches for the NZ Barbarians in 2020 and was part of the inaugural Blues women's team.
Born: July 15, 2000
Amy Rule only started playing rugby in her last two years at Central Southland College, but has quickly proved to be a talent in the front row.
Rule moved to Christchurch for university in 2019 and cemented her place as the starting tighthead prop in the championship-winning Farah Palmer Cup team before gaining selection in the Black Ferns Development team for their campaign in Fiji.
BLACK FERNS END OF YEAR TESTS:
Weekend of October 30/31
Black Ferns v England
Weekend of November 6/7
Black Ferns v England
Saturday, November 13
Black Ferns v France
3pm, Stade du Hameau, Pau
Saturday 20 November
Black Ferns v France
3pm, Stade Pierre-Fabre, Castres
*Venues, dates and kick-off times for England fixtures tbc