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Black Ferns get down to business

The New Zealand women's rugby squad will begin their World Cup preparations next week when 34 players take part in a week-long training camp in Rotorua.

Black Ferns coach Brian Evans has named a strong squad for the camp with just three players unavailable through injury. The former squad captain Melissa Ruscoe (pictured) is back in the squad after missing the trip to England last November through injury.

The camp is the first of two World Cup trials, with the second in the form of a regional competition comprising four teams and 96 players taking place in the coming weeks in Hopuhopu outside Hamilton.

Evans will then whittle his squad down to 26 players who he will work with at another training camp in mid-July and take to London in August to the World Cup. Evans also took 26 players to London last year where his side played three test games - against England and England A.

He said that the proposed camps would prepare his players well for the tournament where New Zealand will defend the title.

The regional tournament will give us a great opportunity to look at a larger group of players prior to selecting our squad for the World Cup and I am confident that we will have a strong team and be well prepared to defend our title come August, he added.

The upcoming camps will take on a greater significance than normal for the Black Ferns, with their top players playing no representative rugby this year after the women's NPC was cancelled due to financial constraints. A two test series visit from Canada was also shelved which means that Evans will have to work his players hard to ensure they don't come to the World Cup short of top class action.

To see how each team is preparing for the World Cup click here.

To buy tickets for the World Cup click here.

New Zealand squad:

Shakira Baker (Wellington),Zoey Berry (Otago), Kelly Brazier (Otago), Olivia Coady (Canterbury), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Barbara Chittock (Canterbury), Victoria Grant (nee Blackledge) (Auckland), Halie Hurring (Canterbury), Victoria Heighway (Auckland), Trish Hina (Auckland), Carla Hohepa (Otago), Linda Itunu (Auckland), Emma Jensen (Auckland), Crystal Kaua (Auckland), Justine Lavea (Auckland), Ruth McKay (Manawatu), Rebecca Mahoney (nee Hull) (Wellington), Beth Mallard (Otago), Huriana Manuel (Auckland), Amanda Murphy (Canterbury), Karina Penetito (Auckland), Casey Robertson (Canterbury), Vita Robinson (Auckland), Claire Rowat (Wellington), Melissa Ruscoe (Canterbury), Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox (Canterbury), Anika Tiplady (Canterbury), Doris Taufateau (Auckland), Teresa Te Tamaki (Auckland), Kimberly Smith (Canterbury), Aimee Sutorius (Wellington), Shaan Waru (Hawkes Bay), Renee Wickcliffe (Auckland)

Unavailable for camp: Aroha Savage (injured) and Fiaoo Faamausili, Amiria Rule (injured), Faanati Aniseko (bereavement leave).