With a week’s preparation under their belt the Black Ferns XV team has been named to face Manusina XV in a one-off match at Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe on Saturday (kick off 4.35pm).
Coaches Whitney Hansen, Linda Itunu and Peter Breen have named an in-form squad for the match which will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.
The Black Ferns XV to play Manusina XV is:
1. Eilis Doyle
2. Atlanta Lolohea
3. Moomooga Palu
4. Maama Vaipulu
5. Laura Bayfield
6. Holly Wratt-Groeneweg
7. Leah Miles
8. Elizabith Moimoi
9. Di Hiini
10. Maia Joseph
11. Harmony Kautai
12. Grace Brooker - captain
13. Cheyenne Cunningham
14. Angelica Mekemeke Vahai
15. Tara Turner
16. Vici-Rose Green
17. Marcelle Parkes
18. Esther Faiaoga-Tilo
19. Emma Dermody
20. Mia Anderson
21. Kahlia Awa
22. Rangimarie Sturmey
23. Justine McGregor
With four Black Ferns Tests to her name, Canterbury midfielder Grace Brooker will captain the side and is one of three internationally capped players in the Black Ferns XV.
The other two, Marcelle Parkes and Esther Faiaoga-Tilo, will provide impact from the bench to the front row with Eilis Doyle, Atlanta Lolohea and Moomooga Palu anchoring the starting forward pack.
Maama Vaipulu and Laura Bayfield join up in the second row while Holly Wratt-Groeneweg, Leah Miles and Elizabith Moimoi form a dynamic loose forward trio.
Di Hiini and Maia Joseph combine at halfback and first five-eighths while Brooker will pair up with Cheyenne Cunningham in the midfield. There is plenty of youth and speed out wide with Harmony Kautai, Angelica Mekemeke-Vahai and Tara Turner rounding out the starting fifteen.
Vici-Rose Green provides cover at hooker, while Emma Dermody, Mia Anderson, Kahlia Awa, Rangimarie Sturmey and Justine McGregor will all add impact off the bench.
Black Ferns XV Head Coach Hansen recognised the one-week campaign has meant the squad had to come together quickly.
“We have some very special people in this group, management included, so it’s been easy for us all to connect. From a rugby perspective it’s been cool to see some connections that haven’t played together starting to gel and we’re excited to see that come to life on Saturday,” she said.
Fans can expect to be entertained when the team take the field.
“We want to play high tempo. It will be exciting to watch, our players have some special skill sets so there should be some creativity and risk taking in how they play,” Hansen said.
While the team are determined to put a good performance on the field, this week is about more than the on-field result.
“Success will be athletes coming out of this campaign having had the opportunity to express themselves and grown their understanding around what a high-performance rugby environment looks like.”