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Black Ferns settle on their team to play France in semi-final

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Returning to Auckland for the Rugby World Cup semi-finals, the Black Ferns team to face France this Saturday has been named this morning.

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Black Ferns Coaches Wayne Smith, Wesley Clarke and Whitney Hansen have retained the same match-day 23 that won last weeks’ quarter-final over Wales, the only change coming with Ruby Tui switching to the wing, Renee Holmes promoted to the number 15 jersey and Ayesha Leti-I’iga starting from the bench.

Woodman, Tui and Holmes combined as the back three in the opening match at Eden Park just under a month ago.

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“Renee is a specialist 15 and has been playing well there for us, we also see Ayesha as an incredible impact player so we know she will come on and make a difference in the game,” said Smith.

The Black Ferns have played France on nine occasions, winning the first five Tests before dropping the past four. The teams have meet in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

12 Black Ferns named in this weekend’s semi-final were part of the team that last played France, a year ago, this will be the first time the team’s have faced each other in New Zealand.

The match continues the rich history of New Zealand and French matches at Eden Park, their men’s equivalents going head-to-head in two previous Rugby World Cup Finals at the ground in 1987 and 2011.

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“It’s going to take our best game of the season to win. We’ve had a lot of catching up to do this year so to win on Saturday, our players will have to manage the pressure and play the game with courage. It’s a real privilege to be playing in a World Cup, at Eden Park, so we need to be excited about that, not overwhelmed,” said Smith.

Black Ferns to face France:

1. Phillipa Love (23)
2. Georgia Ponsonby (11)
3. Amy Rule (10)
4. Maiakawanakaukani Roos (12)
5. Chelsea Bremner (10)
6. Alana Bremner (11)
7. Sarah Hirini (15)
8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (10)
9. Kendra Cocksedge (66)
10. Ruahei Demant (24) – co-captain
11. Portia Woodman (23)
12. Theresa Fitzpatrick (16)
13. Stacey Fluhler (23)
14. Ruby Tui (8)
15. Renee Holmes (8)

16. Luka Connor (12)
17. Krystal Murray (7)
18. Santo Taumata (5)
19. Joanah Ngan-Woo (15)
20. Kennedy Simon (11) – co-captain
21. Ariana Bayler (7)
22. Hazel Tubic (21)
23. Ayesha Leti-I’iga (19)

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-Press Release/NZR

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