The New Zealand squad for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland next month has been finalised by Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore.
The 28-strong squad, which includes a couple of recent new caps in Theresa Fitzpatrick and Becky Wood, will travel to Ireland on August 1 in their bid to win back the trophy they relinquished three years ago. The Black Ferns are in Pool A with Canada, Wales and Hong Kong.
47-times capped hooker Fiao’o Fa’amausili will lead New Zealand as she closes in on the national caps record currently held by Anna Richards and Emma Jensen (49 Tests each). It will be Fa’amausili’s fifth World Cup and her second as captain.
The two Itunu sisters, Linda and Aldora, are also part of the forwards contingent along with flanker Sarah Goss who captained the New Zealand Sevens team to silver at last year’s Olympics. The other players from that Rio Sevens squad who are Dublin-bound are backs Fitzpatrick, Kelly Brazier and Portia Woodman.
Classy full-back Selica Winiata, who was the joint-top try scorer at the 2014 World Cup with six tries, is back for more. She is one of 12 players with experience of the last World Cup, while Waikato winger Carla Hohepa – one of the stars of the 2010 tournament with seven tries – is another familiar name having returned to the 15s Test arena last year.
Promising 20-year-old prop Aotearoa ‘Katie’ Mata’u, who carried strongly off the bench against Ireland last November, could be one of the youngsters to look out for in the pool stages. She made the cut along with fit-again back Hazel Tubic, while Pip Love, Justine Lavea and Honey Hireme are among the players who missed out.
New Zealand Rugby Chair Brent Impey congratulated the selected players and said representing New Zealand in a World Cup was a momentous achievement for all those named.
“Pulling on the black jersey and wearing the fern is the ultimate goal for any New Zealand athlete, but to play in a World Cup is something few rugby players ever achieve. These women are at the top of their game, and whether it is their first World Cup or their third, it is always special. I congratulate them all on achieving selection,” he said.
“Today is the beginning of their journey and I know they will take with them to Ireland the best wishes and support from all of New Zealand. We wish them every success.”
Head coach Glenn Moore said that last month’s International Women’s Series against Canada, Australia and England, the defending WRWC champions who beat New Zealand 29-21 in Rotorua, had provided the squad with much-needed international competition in preparation for Ireland 2017.
“We won two Tests and lost one. We were disappointed to lose to England, but now we know what we need to work on and where our strengths lie,” he explained. “Everyone who has been selected today deserves their spot. We have the right combination of players, many with lots of experience to draw on.
“We know how tough the task ahead is and we are excited for the challenge. We take nothing for granted and the players have been training hard all year, and have continued to play club rugby since the June series finished to maintain match fitness. We’re determined to do our fans, families and our country proud.”
WRWC 2017 Fixtures:
Pool A –
New Zealand v Wales, Billings Park, UCD, 2.45pm, Wednesday, August 9
New Zealand v Hong Kong, Billings Park, UCD, 12pm, Sunday, August 13
Canada v New Zealand, Billings Park, UCD, 12pm, Thursday, August 17
For more on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, visit the tournament website – www.rwcwomens.com. Buy your match tickets for #WRWC2017 now on www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.
NEW ZEALAND WRWC 2017 Squad: Backs (12) – Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Kelly Brazier (Otago), Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali (Counties Manukau), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Kristina Sue (Manawatu), Hazel Tubic (Auckland), Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau), Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau), Selica Winiata (Manawatu), Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Chelsea Alley (North Harbour).
Forwards (16) – Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Toka Natua (Waikato), Aleisha Nelson (Auckland), Sosoli Talawadua (Waikato), Fiao’o Fa’amausili (Auckland) (capt), Becky Wood (North Harbour), Charmaine Smith (North Harbour), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Les Ketu (Bay of Plenty), Linda Itunu (Auckland), Rawinia Everitt (Counties Manukau), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Te-Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties Manukau), Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau), Aotearoa (Katie) Mata’u (Counties Manukau).