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Black Ferns announce contracts for 34 players including six Super Rugby Aupiki standouts

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the 34 contracted players locked in for the Black Ferns as they set their sights on building toward the 2025 Rugby World Cup.

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Sky Super Rugby Aupiki standouts, Grace Gago, Katelyn Vahaakolo, Layla Sae, Lucy Jenkins, Mererangi Paul and Rosie Kelly have secured their first full-time Black Ferns contracts.

In addition, 2022 Black Ferns Rugby World Cup champions Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Kendra Reynolds, Sylvia Brunt and Santo Taumata have also picked up full-time Black Ferns contracts for the first time.

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Black Ferns Director of Rugby Allan Bunting congratulated the contracted group.

“We have a balance of youth and experience among the group who we believe can take this team to another level, which is exciting for the future of the Black Ferns.

“A number of players stood out in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki and now have the opportunity to further their growth and do that at the next level.

“For this group, it is now time to re-focus and look at what it really means to be a Black Fern, build off what was achieved, strive to be better on and off the field, and enjoy the journey.”

Amy Rule will complete the Super W season in Australia before returning to the Black Ferns programme. NZR is also working with Ruby Tui to confirm her availability to re-join the Black Ferns programme later in the year. Further contracts are to be confirmed at a later date.

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Contracted players will train out of regionalised hubs in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch, where they will receive technical, tactical and strength and conditioning programmes.

In addition, each player will have one day a week committed to their personal development, focussing on the areas of career/education and work, finance and asset protection, character development, mental wellness and other professional rugby obligations and expectations.

2023 Black Ferns Contracted Players:

Alana Bremner (Matat?, Canterbury)
Amy Du Plessis (Matat?, Canterbury)
Amy Rule (Matat?, Canterbury)
Ariana Bayler (Blues, Waikato)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau)
Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (Chiefs Manawa, Waikato)
Ayesha Leti-I’iga (Hurricanes Poua, Wellington)
Charmaine McMenamin (Blues, Auckland)
Chelsea Bremner (Chiefs Manawa, Canterbury)
Georgia Ponsonby (Matat?, Canterbury)
Grace Brooker (Matat?, Canterbury)
Grace Gago (Blues, Counties Manukau)
Grace Steinmetz (Matat?, Canterbury)
Hazel Tubic (Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau)
Joanah Ngan-Woo (Hurricanes Poua, Wellington)
Katelyn Vahaakolo (Blues, Auckland)
Kelsie Thwaites (Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty)
Kendra Reynolds (Matat?, Bay of Plenty)
Kennedy Simon (Chiefs Manawa, Waikato)
Krystal Murray (Hurricanes Poua, Northland)
Layla Sae (Hurricanes Poua, Manawatu)
Liana Mikaele’Tu’u (Blues, Auckland)
Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt (Blues, Auckland)
Lucy Jenkins (Matat?, Canterbury)
Luka Connor (Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (Blues, Auckland)
Mererangi Paul (Chiefs Manawa, Counties Manukau)
Patricia Maliepo (Blues, Auckland)
Pip Love (Matat?, Canterbury)
Renee Holmes (Matat?, Waikato)
Rosie Kelly (Matat?, Canterbury)
Ruahei Demant (Blues, Auckland)
Santo Taumata (Chiefs Manawa, Bay of Plenty)
Tanya Kalounivale (Chiefs Manawa, Waikato)

-Press Release/NZR

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