September 07, 2021

Chiefs Women named in Black Ferns Squad | Chiefs Rugby

10 Chiefs Women have been named in the Black Ferns Squad to compete in their end of year tests. Chiefs Women Captain Les Elder returns to Captain the Black Ferns, 12 players in line for debut and Portia Woodman, Kelly Brazier and Stacey Fluhler selected after Olympic gold.

Black Ferns Coach Glenn Moore has named a 34-player squad for the upcoming tour of England and France, the squad is as follows.

(With age, Provincial Union and Test caps in brackets. 2021 Chiefs Women are in bold):

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)

Loose Forwards
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)

First five-eighths
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)

Outside Backs
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.

Just under half of the squad named today 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 Portia Woodman, Kelly 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.

Les Elder returns to captain the side after missing the 2020 season.

“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.

Selection conversations were thrown a curve ball with the latest Covid 19 outbreak forcing a halt to the Bunnings Warehouse Farah Palmer Cup which Moore said changed how the selectors looked at assembling the squad.

“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 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,” said Moore.

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.

Squad breakdown

The Black Ferns squad is made up of 19 forwards (three hookers, six props, four locks and six loose forwards) and 15 backs (three halfbacks, two first five–eighths, four midfielders, and six outside backs).

The squad represents eight of New Zealand’s provincial unions, with nine Waikato players, seven from Auckland, six from Canterbury, five from Bay of Plenty, three from Wellington, two from Northland and one each from Counties Manukau and Taranaki.

The squad has an average age of 26, 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.

Black Ferns End of Year Tests

Weekend of 30/31 October
Black Ferns v England

Weekend of 6/7 November
Black Ferns v England

Saturday 13 November
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

Chiefs Women named in Black Ferns Squad | Chiefs Rugby