New faces feature in Black Ferns squad

By James Perry

A mixture of fresh faces and veteran players feature in the first Black Ferns squad of the year.

Fiao’o Faamausili, who led the Black Ferns to Wold Cup victory in 2017, has come out of retirement to once again captain the side against Australia for the Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy next month.

Fullback Selica Winiata and halfback Kendra Cocksedge have been named as co-vice captains. 

The 28-strong squad features 8 new faces, 4 each in the forwards and the backs. 

Coach Glen Moore says that while winning pinnacle events such as the World Cup is a big goal, "we're also really focused on the fact that we have to perform every time we get a chance to put that jersey on, and the expectation is every time we put it on we win."

Ruahei Demant was one of 28 players to be signed to a professional contract earlier this year, and is one of the new faces named last night.

Demant joins her younger sister Kiritapu in the squad for the first time.  Kiritapu has two caps to her name after debuting in 2015. 

They become the fourth pair of sisters to play for the Black Ferns, and join the Itunu sisters, Linda and Aldora in this current squad.

Moore says Ruahei has been on their radar "for quite a while", but has been held back with a series of serious knee injuries over the past few years.

He describes the first-five as "very commanding about running the game." 

Black Ferns lock Charmaine Smith, who also plays with Demant for College Rifles in Auckland, says Demant has a "mature game" and "leads from the front, which is really good in a ten."

Among the other new faces are Marcelle Parkes, of the Wellington Pride.  She has previously represented New Zealand in Netball and Softball at age-grade level. 

Smith is excited about the number of new players and the energy they bring to the squad.

"When you represent New Zealand, and pull on that jersey for the first time, like it's just going to be an exciting experience for them and I think we'll all feed off that and it'll help us grow our game even more," says Smith.

Portia Woodman, Sarah Goss and Kelly Brazier, who are currently in San Francisco preparing for the 7's World Cup this weekend, have opted to concentrate on 7's for the time being and are preparing for Tokyo 2020. 

However, fellow 7's players Stacey Waaka and Theresa Fitzpatrick, and 7's wider squad member Alena Saili have been included in Moore's 15's squad. 

The Black Ferns first game together will be against the Auckland Storm and the Bay of Plenty Volcanix in a Game of Three Halves in Tauranga in early August.

They then play Australia in Sydney the following week before returning to Eden Park in Auckland on August 25.  Both tests against Australia serve as part of double headers with the All Blacks playing the Wallabies. 

The squad named on Tuesday is: 

FORWARDS (brackets denotes caps)

Eloise Blackwell                     (32)     Auckland

Les Elder (nee Ketu)               (9)      Bay of Plenty

Fiao'o Faamausili ©                (52)    Auckland

Aldora Itunu                            (15)    Auckland

Linda Itunu                              (35)    Auckland

Pip Love                                  (2)      Canterbury

Charmaine McMenamin         (14)    Auckland

Aleisha Nelson                        (26)    Auckland

Joanah Ngan-Woo                *          Wellington

Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate  (20)     Counties Manukau

Marcelle Parkes                    *          Wellington

Jackie Patea-Fereti                 (12)     Wellington

Leilani Perese                        *         Counties Manukau

Aroha Savage                         (28)     Counties Manukau

Charmaine Smith                    (16)     Auckland

Cristo Tofa                            *          North Harbour

BACKS

Chelsea Alley                         (15)     Waikato

Kendra Cocksedge (vc)          (42)     Canterbury

Krysten Cottrell                    *         Hawke's Bay

Kiritapu Demant                     (2)       Auckland

Ruahei Demant                     *          Auckland

Theresa Fitzpatrick                 (7)       Auckland

Alena Saili                             *          Southland

Kristina Sue                            (10)     Manawatu

Monica Tagoai                      *          Wellington

Stacey Waaka                         (11)     Waikato

Renee Wickliffe                      (30)     Bay of Plenty

Selica Winiata (vc)                 (31)     Manawatu