Black Ferns coaches Wayne Smith, Wesley Clarke and Whitney Hansen have selected 32 players in the Black Ferns squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, hosted in New Zealand for the first time.
The squad was announced by New Zealand Rugby Deputy Chair and Rugby World Cup winner Dr Farah Palmer at College Rifles Rugby Club this afternoon.
The squad is (age, Super Rugby team, Province and Test caps):
Luka Connor (26, Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 8)
Natalie Delamere (25, Bay of Plenty, Matatū, 2)
Georgia Ponsonby (22, Canterbury, Matatū, 6)
Tanya Kalounivale (23, Waikato, Chiefs, 4)
Phillipa Love (32, Canterbury, Matatū, 19)
Krystal Murray (29, Northland, Blues, 4)
Amy Rule (22, Canterbury, Matatū, 6)
Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (24, Waikato, Chiefs, 1)
Santo Taumata (19, Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 1)
Chelsea Bremner (27, Canterbury, Matatū, 5)
Joanah Ngan-Woo (26, Wellington, Hurricanes, 10)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (21, Auckland, Blues, 7)
Alana Bremner (25, Canterbury, Matatū, 8)
Sarah Hirini (29, Manawatū, Hurricanes, 10)
Charmaine McMenamin (32, Auckland, Blues, 27)
Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (20, Auckland, Blues, 6)
Kendra Reynolds (29, Bay of Plenty, Matatū, 5)
Kennedy Simon (25, Waikato, Chiefs, 10)
Ariana Bayler (25, Waikato, Chiefs, 5)
Kendra Cocksedge (34, Canterbury, Matatū, 61)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (30, Counties Manukau, Chiefs, 9)
Ruahei Demant (27, Auckland, Blues, 20)
Hazel Tubic (31, Counties Manukau, Chiefs, 16)
Logo I Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt (18, Auckland, 4)
Amy du Plessis (23, Canterbury, Matatū, 3)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (27, Auckland, Blues, 12)
Stacey Fluhler (26, Waikato, Chiefs, 20)
Renee Holmes (22, Waikato, Matatū, 4)
Ayesha Leti-I’iga (23, Wellington, Hurricanes, 17)
Ruby Tui (30, Counties Manukau, Chiefs, 4)
Renee Wickliffe (35, Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 44)
Portia Woodman (31, Northland, Chiefs, 18)
Unavailable due to injury: Grace Brooker, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Aleisha Pearl Nelson
Veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge and outside back Renee Wickliffe will be attending their fourth Rugby World Cup, while seven players are returning for their second after taking part in the 2017 victory.
Players selected range from Northland through to Canterbury, with Sylvia Brunt the youngest selected at just 18-years-old.
The Black Ferns will be co-captained by Auckland’s Ruahei Demant and Waikato’s Kennedy Simon.
Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith, who will attend his first women’s Rugby World Cup, but fifth overall, congratulated those selected.
“This is an incredibly special moment for the players selected and on behalf of the coaching group I want to congratulate all those named in today’s squad, it’s an exciting time not only for them but their whānau and wider communities as well,” said Smith.
“It’s also important to make note of those players that missed out. This selection process has been incredibly difficult as the standard of players we have seen across the country this year has been impressive.
“There are a number of players who have had long, distinguished careers in the black jersey and their contribution to this team has been crucial in getting the team to where it is today. And we know as with any campaign of this length, we may still see some of them called into the squad,” said Smith.
The Black Ferns have developed a new game plan in 2022 under the new coaching set up and Smith said he hopes it is one that will excite the rugby public and get them in behind the team throughout the Rugby World Cup.
“We’ve talked a lot this year about wanting to play an exhilarating style of rugby and we have seen that developing throughout the year. We want to play on top of the opposition and that requires a certain set of skills that we have been working really hard on.”
With an exciting Farah Palmer Cup, Presented by Bunnings Warehouse, coming to a conclusion on Saturday, with Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay claiming titles, Smith said the competition has been a solid build up for the players.
“This year we saw a fast, open and exciting style of game played across the country. Teams were playing with a huge attacking intent which was pleasing to see, and there are a number of players who really cemented their selection in this squad off the back of their FPC form,” said Smith.
Having been involved in the All Blacks home Rugby World Cup campaign in 2011, Smith said he knows how much it means to players to have a chance to compete for the biggest prize in the game on home soil.
“To compete at home in front of our whānau and fans will be exceptionally special for the players. In my experience, understanding the significance of the event is important but at the same time you need to be excited by that challenge. You can’t let the pressure overcome you or ignore it. It’s a fine balance. To play with freedom and joy in front of our own people is what we have been training for,” finished Smith.
The Black Ferns squad will assemble in Auckland on Monday in advance of their first ever Test match against Japan at Eden Park. They will stay assembled through to the start of the Rugby World Cup which kicks off at Eden Park on 8 October.
The Black Ferns will face Australia (8 October), Wales (16 October) and Scotland (22 October) in Pool A of the Rugby World Cup.