Six debutants will don the black jersey in the Black Ferns side to play the NZ Barbarians this weekend.
A Commonwealth Games beach volleyballer, Kelsie Wills (27) from Bay of Plenty, will pair with newly-minted captain Eloise Blackwell at lock. Chelsea Bremner (25, Canterbury) winner of the 2019 Fiao’o Faamausili Medal, will provide back-up locking duties from the reserves.
Two new, exciting wingers, Counties Manukau Heat’s Langi Veainu (27) and Waikato’s Cheyelle Robins-Reti (23) bring speed out wide, after impressing Moore with their try-scoring abilities throughout the Farah Palmer Cup.
Bay of Plenty Volcanix’s loose forward Kendra Reynolds is set to debut in black at age 27, and Otago Spirit youngster South African-born midfielder Amy du Plessis (21) will debut from the reserves.
Counties Manukau’s Hazel Tubic starts at 10, having last played in the black jersey at the 2017 Rugby World Cup. Northland’s Aroha Savage, Auckland’s Cristo Tofa and Aldora Itunu also return to the Black Ferns forward pack.
Moore said the inclusion of the debutants was an exciting prospect for their match against the NZ Barbarians.
“It’s great as a coach, and for our fans, to see this talent coming through and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do on Saturday.”
Moore said Wills, who switched to rugby in late 2018, was a fast learner and had easily fitted in as a locking partner with Blackwell at training this week.
“Kelsie has natural athletic ability having played many sports. Her height and speed off the ground will be crucial for winning lineout ball.
“Our other two new forwards – Chelsea Bremner at lock, and Kendra Reynolds at loosie, will also provide impact from the bench and it means we can continue to develop our game up front as we build to World Cup next year,” Moore said.
The three new backs named today were also impressive future prospects for Moore and his coaching team. Moore said they were a good fit for the type of rugby the Black Ferns aim to play on Saturday.
“Langi has been on our radar for a while now and has been working hard to develop further. She gets her chance in the black jersey this weekend which is really exciting for her and her family.
“Cheyelle is also one to watch. She’s a smart and confident rugby player. She has speed and her all round skills, including her kicking ability, are excellent.
Zeebs will be watching on from Paris when the Kiwi makes his Ireland debut on Friday night https://t.co/uywc7ZPTjc
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At just 21-years-old mid-fielder Amy du Plesiss moved from her home in Southland to Dunedin to play for Otago in the Farah Palmer Cup in 2018. Moore said her eagerness to learn and grow stood out.
“Amy continues to work hard on her skills and her work rate last week made her a stand-out.”
Moore said Saturday’s triple header of three matches including the Defence Ferns v NZ Police and Tonga v Samoa, culminating in the Black Ferns v NZ Babarians match would be a showcase of New Zealand’s best rugby players.
“This is a special opportunity to see the Black Ferns here at home and have a taste of the excitement Rugby World Cup 2021 will bring next year. The team can’t wait to get out there and play. With six debutants ready to go it’s going to be a fantastic occasion.
- Toka Natua (22)
- Luka Connor (5)
- Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (35)
- Eloise Blackwell (Captain, 43)
- Kelsie Wills (*)
- Charmaine McMenamin (25)
- Kennedy Simon (4)
- Aroha Savage (33)
- Kendra Cocksedge (Vice Captain, 53)
- Hazel Tubic (11)
- Langi Veainu (*)
- Chelsea Alley (24)
- Grace Brooker (1)
- Cheyelle Robins-Reti (*)
- Selica Winiata (40)Reserves:
- Cristo Tofa (2)
- Phillipa Love (11)
- Aldora Itunu (20)
- Chelsea Bremner (*)
- Kendra Reynolds (*)
- Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (6)
- Ruahei Demant (11)
- Amy du Plessis (*)
– New Zealand Rugby
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