The World Champions have named their squad for the upcoming WXV1 competition, which they will host.
Head Coach Allan Bunting, has named several new faces after stand out performances in the Farah Palmer Cup (FPC), with Manawatū Cyclone’s loose forward Layla Sae, Canterbury wing Martha Mataele, and the Auckland Storm duo of loosehead prop Chryss Viliko and tighthead prop Sophie Fisher, selected for the first time.
Back in the squad for the first time since 2019, is lock Charmaine Smith who has impressed with Northland Kauri, while Auckland midfielder Patricia Maliepo returns from injury, Bay of Plenty hooker Natalie Delamere and Waikato halfback Ariana Bayler earn selection for the first time this year and talismanic winger Ruby Tui returns to international duties following her sabbatical.
Smith's return is particularly remarkable, having been told in 2020 that she had to medically retire following an issue with her neck.
She then gave birth to a little girl, after which she discovered that her injury had healed and after battling back to fitness, her form has now been rewarded.
Bunting said: “It has been a very tough selection for our coaching group, which demonstrates the growth in our women’s game and a reflection our depth is certainly building. Our new players have really stood out in several important behaviours we value. All of which we have been looking for in this year’s Farah Palmer Cup,” said Black Ferns Director of Rugby Bunting.
“It is an exciting opportunity for them to come on this journey and look to continue their growth both on and off the field. The future of our internal competition is exciting to see."
New Zealand will play Australia at the end of September in their final outing before the WXV kicks off on October.
The Black Ferns beat Australia in June and then travelled to Canada for wins over the hosts and the US to win the Pacific Fours.
New Zealand has also named a squad to play as the Black Ferns XV in a one-off match against Samoa.
Black Ferns team (Age/Super Club/Province/Test caps):
Kate Henwood (34, Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty, 2)
Krystal Murray (30, Hurricanes Poua, Northland, 10)
Chryss Viliko (20, Blues, Auckland, new cap)
Georgia Ponsonby (23, Matatū, Canterbury, 16)
Luka Connor (26, Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty, 16)
Natalie Delamere (26, Matatū, Bay of Plenty, 3)
Amy Rule (23, Matatū, Canterbury, 16)
Sophie Fisher (24, Blues, Auckland, new cap)
Tanya Kalounivale (24, Chiefs Manawa, Waikato, 8)
Charmaine Smith (31, Chiefs Manawa, Northland, 27)
Chelsea Bremner (28, Chiefs Manawa, Canterbury, 15)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (22, Blues, Auckland, 17)
Alana Bremner (26, Matatū, Canterbury, 15)
Kennedy Simon (26, Chiefs Manawa, Waikato, 16) – Co-Captain
Layla Sae (22, Hurricanes Poua, Manawatū, new cap)
Liana Mikaele Tu'u (21, Blues, Auckland, 14)
Lucy Jenkins (22, Matatū, Canterbury, 2)
Ariana Bayler (26, Blues, Waikato, 7)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (31, Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau, 15)
Iritana Hohaia (23, Hurricanes Poua, Taranaki, 3)
Rosie Kelly (23, Matatū, Canterbury, 3)
Ruahei Demant (28, Blues, Auckland, 29) – Co-Captain
Amy du Plessis (24, Matatū, Canterbury, 10)
Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai'i (Sylvia) Brunt (19, Blues, Auckland, 9)
Patricia Maliepo (20, Blues, Auckland, 3)
Katelyn Vahaakolo (23, Blues, Auckland, 2)
Martha Mataele (24, Matatū, Canterbury, new cap)
Mererangi Paul (24, Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau, 2)
Renee Holmes (23, Matatū, Waikato, 13)
Ruby Tui (31, Counties Manukau, 10)
Unavailable for selection due to injury: Ayesha Leti-I'iga (knee), Awhina Tangen Wainohu (neck), Charmaine McMenamin (knee), Santo Taumata (knee).