Black Ferns hopefuls will have a chance to stake an early claim for next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Head coach Glenn Moore has named 52 players for a Possibles versus Probables clash on November 7 at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium.
There will be no shortage of motivation for players to impress with Moore and the selectors likely to reward those who stand out with future Black Ferns selection.
The Black Ferns then have two games against the New Zealand Barbarians on November 14 in Auckland and November 21 in Nelson.
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Next year’s 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand is the major event looming for the team.
Standout halfback and 2018 Kel Tremain Memorial Player of the Year Kendra Cocksedge headlines the Possibles side, which also includes prolific try-scorer, the experienced Selica Winiata.
Auckland lock Eloise Blackwell, first five Ruahei Demant, and Waikato midfielder Carla Hohepa will be key performers for the Probables.
Black Ferns captain Les Elder won’t feature in the game with the hard-working loose forward unavailable due to injury.
Outstanding utility back Portia Woodman, who excelled for Northland in the Farah Palmer Cup, scoring six tries in one game, returns to the Black Ferns sevens environment, so is also unavailable.
Counties Manukau’s Chad Shepherd will coach the Possibles and Bay of Plenty’s Rodney Gibbs the Probables.
“We’ve balanced experience with new and up-and-coming players, who have the potential to become names of the future. We are confident we have the right mix,” Moore said.
“The adversity the players have faced this year has inspired them and that’s been reflected by their performances. The result has been some of the best Farah Palmer Cup action the provincial coaches and I have seen. Knowing these trial squads would be named, and with Rugby World Cup next year, there has been huge motivation for everyone.
“The challenge for the players now is to come together quickly in their respective squads, work as a team, and prepare for a tough match-up. The potential of being named in a Black Ferns squad in a couple of weeks will ramp the pressure up further. They will also be playing for, and representing, two charities. It’s going to be a great couple of weeks.”
The Probables will raise money for New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) official charity, Graeme Dingle Foundation, and the Possibles for the UpsideDowns Education Trust.
NZR official partner AIG will donate $500 for every try scored during the match, and $200 for every successful conversion and penalty.
AT A GLANCE:
The Possibles team:
Forwards: Alana Bremner (Canterbury), Amy Rule (Canterbury), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury), Grace Houpapa-Barrett (Waikato), Joanah Ngan-Woo (Wellington), Katie Mata’u (Counties Manukau), Kendra Reynolds (Bay of Plenty), Kennedy Simon (Waikato), Krystal Murray (Northland), Pia Tapsell (Bay of Plenty), Pip Love (Canterbury), Saphire Abraham (Auckland), Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Northland).
Backs: Carys Dallinger (Manawatu), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Waikato), Grace Brooker (Canterbury), Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau), Iritana Hohaia (Taranaki), Janna Vaughan (Manawatu), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Kilisitina Moata’ane (Dunedin), Monica Tagoai (Wellington), Natahlia Moors (Auckland), Rosie Kelly (Otago), Selica Winiata (Manawatu).
The Probables team:
Forwards: Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (Auckland), Aroha Savage (Northland), Cristo Tofa (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Jay Jay Taylor (North Harbour), Kaipo Olsen-Baker (Manawatu), Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty), Lisa Molia (Counties Manukau), Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty), Maia Roos (Auckland), Marcelle Parkes (Wellington), Rebecca Todd (Canterbury), Toka Natua (Waikato).
Backs: Amy Du Plessis (Otago), Ariana Bayler (Waikato), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau), Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Chelsea Alley (Waikato), Grace Steinmetz (Canterbury), Langi Veainu (Counties Manukau), Lyric Falaefaga (Wellington), Martha Lolohea (Canterbury), Patricia Maliepo (Auckland), Renee Holmes (Waikato), Ruahei Demant (Auckland).
Unavailable for selection due to injury: Forne Burkin (Hawke’s Bay), Ayesha Leti-I’iga (Wellington), Les Elder (Bay of Plenty), Renee Wicklife (Bay of Plenty), Liana Mikaele Tu’u (Hawke’s Bay), Tanya Kalouivale (Waikato) and Lauren Balsille (Manawatu).