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Ruby Tui one of seven players named to make Black Ferns debut against Wallaroos

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Black Ferns Sevens star Ruby Tui has been named as one of seven players to make their test debuts for the Black Ferns against the Wallaroos on Monday.

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Named to start on the right wing, Tui is the highest-profile debutant in the Black Ferns side as New Zealand open their blockbuster 2022 campaign against Australia in the first match of the Pacific Four Series in Tauranga.

A decorated sevens star who has Olympic gold and silver medals, a Commonwealth Games gold medal, a Sevens World Cup title and multiple World Sevens Series championships to her name, Tui brings with her a wealth of experience to the Black Ferns.

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The 30-year-old was also crowned World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in 2019, and joins the Black Ferns after helping the Chiefs Manawa side claim the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki title earlier this year.

Those accolades provides the Black Ferns with plenty of star power in a backline that is also headlined by veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge, new captain Ruahei Demant and star midfielder Chelsea Semple.

The fixture holds particular significance for Cocksedge, who will become the most-capped Black Ferns player of all-time when she runs out for 58th test match at Tauranga Domain.

Tui is joined by fellow debutant Kelsey Teneti at centre, while two further newbies – lock Chelsea Bremner and No 8 Kaipo Olsen-Baker – have been named in the forward pack.

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Three other uncapped players – props Angel Mulu and Tanya Kalounivale, and loose forward Tafito Lafaele – have also been included on the bench.

The match will also act as the first test for new Black Ferns director of rugby Wayne Smith and his assistants Whitney Hansen and Wesley Clarke.

Together, the trio have formed a new coaching set-up following the controversial departure of former Black Ferns boss Glenn Moore in April.

Smith, the experienced and vastly-successful former All Blacks coach, said the introduction of fresh faces will help the Black Ferns build towards the World Cup on home soil later this year.

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“We are looking at these series before the World Cup as an opportunity for players to put their best foot forward. We’re really impressed with some of our younger players, they’re in good condition and deserve a crack,” Smith said via a statement.

“I’ve always seen selection as an easy process, the players select themselves – we just have to write the names down.

“It’s exciting having these tests in our own country and that brings with it some pressure. I want this series to be exhilarating for the country and the players, we’ve got a game that can do that – we just have to put it out on the field.”

The Wallaroos, meanwhile, have named an experienced team to face the Black Ferns, one that will be captained by sevens star Shannon Parry and features two debutants on the bench in the form of Annabelle Codey and Cecilia Smith.

Black Ferns: 1. Krystal Murray, 2. Georgia Ponsonby, 3. Amy Rule, 4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 5. Chelsea Bremner, 6. Alana Bremner, 7. Kendra Reynolds, 8. Kaipo Olsen-Baker, 8. Kendra Cocksedge, 10. Ruahei Demant (c), 11. Ayesha Leti-I’iga, 12. Chelsea Semple, 13. Kelsey Teneti, 14. Ruby Tui, 15. Renee Holmes

Reserves: 16. Luka Connor, 17. Angel Mulu, 18. Tanya Kalounivale, 19. Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20. Tafito Lafaele, 21. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, 22. Hazel Tubic, 23. Cheyelle Robins-Reti

Wallaroos: 1. Liz Patu, 2. Adiana Talakai, 3. Bridie O’Gorman, 4. Michaele Leonard, 5. Kaitlan Leaney, 6. Emily Chancellor, 7. Shannon Parry (c), 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Iliseva Batibasaga, 10. Trileen Pomare, 11. Ivania Wong, 12. Pauline Piliae-Rasabale, 13. Georgina Friedrichs, 14. Mahalia Murphy, 15. Lori Cramer

Reserves: 16. Ashley Marsters, 17. Madison Schuck, 18. Asoiva (Eva) Karpani, 19. Annabelle Codey, 20. Piper Duck, 21. Layne Morgan, 22. Cecilia Smith, 23. Arabella McKenzie

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