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Black Ferns XV established with debut fixture against Samoa announced

By Kim Ekin
Fiaalii Solomona with ball in hand for Tasman. Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby has taken another step in the development of the women’s game, establishing a Black Ferns XV with an aim to “foster the professional growth of players, coaches and management on the international stage and provide a high-performance pathway to the Black Ferns.”

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The team will debut with a matchup against Samoa on Saturday, September 23 in Pukekohe. The fixture will be preceded by an NPC clash between Counties Manukau and Manawat?, giving fans a double-header of rugby action.

Fetu Samoa went undefeated in the 2023 Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship, dispatching Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea to qualify for WXV2.

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While an exact date is yet to be confirmed, the Black Ferns XV squad will be announced in mid-September and will be led by Matat?’s Head of Rugby Whitney Hansen. The former Black Ferns assistant is joined by Blues Assistant Coach, former Black Fern Linda Itunu and former Wallaroos Assistant Coach Peter Breen.

Hansen expressed her excitement for the team and the opportunity to develop and promote the next generation of talent.

“We have a talented pool of athletes in New Zealand,” she said in a statement. “And this offers the next generation of aspiring athletes the opportunity to take their first or next step, which is hugely exciting. While the development of our aspiring players is an important focus, this team will also provide the chance for former Black Ferns who are returning to the game, a chance to push for a recall and showcase their talent. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and excited to work alongside an exceptional management group and what will be an impressive playing group.”

NZR Women’s High Performance Manager Hannah Porter said the Black Ferns XV was an important part of the high-performance pathway.

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“We know for the continued success of our Black Ferns team we need to ensure we are developing and exposing a wider group of players to high-performance environments. The inclusion of the Black Ferns XV in our high-performance pathway provides aspiring players and coaches the opportunity for continued growth, experience, and a chance to demonstrate their craft.

“We have an abundance of talent coming through the Bunnings Farah Palmer Cup competition and the Black Ferns XV will allow us to capture a wider group of this talent, enhance and develop it, which will be important as we build towards the 2025 Rugby World Cup.”

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Porter said Hansen would be an asset to the side and was supported by a talented coaching group.

“We are excited to be able to have Whitney lead the Black Ferns XV. She holds a great amount of experience, has a fantastic rapport with the players. It has long been an ambition for her to grow as a leader of a programme and we are looking forward to continuing to support her in that.

“With the inclusion of Linda and Peter, it makes for an exciting coaching group. Linda was a highly regarded player, who is quickly developing into a highly respected coach in her own right. Peter has returned to New Zealand from Australia, where he was involved with the Wallaroos and Melbourne Storm.”

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Pecos 296 days ago

What a great building block. Some of the newbie young BFs could do with game time here rather than being thrown straight into the deep end. Well done NZR.

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