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Black Ferns team to play Australia for the O'Reilly Cup

By Ben Smith
New Zealand sing the national anthem during the 2024 Pacific Four Series match between New Zealand Black Ferns and USA at FMG Stadium Waikato on May 11, 2024 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The Black Ferns have named their team to play Australia for the O’Reilly Cup this weekend as they look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Canada.


World Cup hero Renee Holmes returns to the starting side to play at fullback, while star lock Alana Brember also returns to the starting XV.

To accomodate the return of Holmes, Mererangi Paul moves to the right wing in place of Ruby Tui while Katelyn Vahaakolo remains on the left wing after two tries last week.

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A change up in the halves sees co-captain Ruahei Demant and halfback Maia Joseph move to the bench to finish the game, with starting roles handed to Hurricanes Poua pair Iritana Hohaia and Hannah King.

A back row re-shuffle sees Kaipo Olsen-Baker start at No 8 after an impressive cameo off the bench, while Liana Mikaele-Tu’u moves to blindside and co-captain Kennedy Simon lines up at openside.

Prop Amy Rule wins her first start of the season, along side Georgia Ponsonby and Chryss Viliko in the front row.

“We have taken some critical learnings from our game against Canada. This is now our opportunity to move on and take this next challenge against Australia,” coach Allan Bunting said.


“There is a great rivalry between our two nations, we know Australia are coming off some pain as well and know how well they played at the end of last year.

“We are looking to see change in our mental preparation this week.

“Alongside this, we have a refreshed starting fifteen, which is growing the depth in our squad, and offers them an opportunity to show their capabilities in what will be another intense battle.”

Black Ferns team to play Australia is (Test caps in brackets);

1. Chryss Viliko (4)
2. Georgia Ponsonby (22)
3. Amy Rule (21)
4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (23)
5. Alana Bremner (19)
6. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (20)
7. Kennedy Simon (co-captain) (22)
8. Kaipo Olsen-Baker (4)
9. Iritana Hohaia (8)
10. Hannah King (1)
11. Katelyn Vahaakolo (8)
12. Logo-i-Pulotu Lemapu-Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt (15)
13. Amy du Plessis (16)
14. Mererangi Paul (7)
15. Renee Holmes (16)

16. Luka Connor (22)
17. Marcelle Parkes (5)
18. Aldora Itunu (25)
19. Charmaine Smith (31)
20. Layla Sae (5)
21. Maia Joseph (2)
22. Ruahei Demant (co-captain) (35)
23. Grace Steinmetz (2)


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