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New captain to lead 2020 Black Ferns

  • Eloise Blackwell named as Black Ferns captain
  • Nine new caps included
  • Preparation begins for Rugby World Cup 2021

Auckland’s Eloise Blackwell (Ngātiwai, Ngāti Maru) will lead the 2020 Black Ferns, in a squad that includes nine uncapped players.

Blackwell, a 29-year-old lock from Great Barrier Island (Aotea), made her debut in the black jersey in 2011 against England. With 43 caps to her name, she was part of the Black Ferns 2014 and 2017 Rugby World Cup campaigns.

Canterbury halfback Kendra Cocksedge has been named as vice captain.

Black Ferns Head Coach Glenn Moore said Blackwell had grown her leadership skills in her role as captain for the Auckland Storm and had been a core member of the Black Ferns leadership group for several years.

“Ella sets an example as a tough and uncompromising player, often playing out the full 80 minutes for us. She has excellent game knowledge and leads by the way she plays. Along with this is she is a strategic thinker and natural communicator.

“Backed by Kendra, I believe the two of them will help us grow and develop the squad we need to be in the best possible position for Rugby World Cup next year.”

Moore has included four new forwards and five new backs in the 2020 squad.

The nine new caps are: Amy Du Plessis (Otago), Renee Holmes (Waikato), Tanya Kalounivale (Waikato), Ilisapetu Molia (Counties Manukau), Kendra Reynolds (Bay of Plenty), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Waikato), Grace Steinmetz (Canterbury), Lanulangi Veainu (Counties Manukau) and Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty).

The 2020 Black Ferns squad is (Test caps in brackets, new caps in bold):
Eloise Blackwell (Captain, 43) Auckland
Chelsea Bremner Canterbury
Luka Connor (5)

Bay of Plenty
Tanya Kalounivale Waikato
Phillipa Love (11)

Charmaine McMenamin (25) Auckland
Ilisapetu Molia Counties Manukau
Toka Natua (22) Waikato
Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (35) Auckland
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (30) Northland
Kendra Reynolds Bay of Plenty
Aroha Savage (33) Northland
Kennedy Simon (4) Waikato
Pia Tapsell (5) Bay of Plenty
Cristo Tofa (2) Auckland
Kelsie Wills Bay of Plenty

Chelsea Alley (24) Waikato
Grace Brooker (1) Canterbury
Kendra Cocksedge (Vice-Captain, 53) Canterbury
Ruahei Demant (11) Auckland
Amy DuPlessis Otago
Renee Holmes Waikato

Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (6) Counties Manukau
Cheyelle Robins-Reti Waikato
Grace Steinmetz Canterbury
Hazel Tubic (11) Counties Manukau
Lanulangi Veainu Counties Manukau
Selica Winiata (40) Manawatu

*Not considered due to injury: Lesley Elder (Bay of Plenty), Jackie Patea-Fereti (Wellington), Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Forne Burkin (Hawke’s Bay), Renee Wickliffe (Bay of Plenty) and Ayesha Leti-Iiga (Wellington).

Moore said the Black Ferns squad was selected with the type of rugby they wanted to play at Rugby World Cup 2021 in mind.

“We are now less than a year away from Rugby World Cup and we have a clear goal. Throughout the Farah Palmer Cup we’ve been looking for athletes who fit the type of rugby we want to play and we knew there would be a lot of new faces in the Black Ferns this year. It’s exciting to see the talent coming through.

Moore said the Possibles v Probables trial match on Saturday had made the selectors job tough.

“A number of very good players missed out today but they still have the opportunity to impress the coaches over the next two weeks. The New Zealand Barbarians is full of quality players as well.

“Over the next couple of days we will focus on bringing the Black Ferns together, ensure we are are aligned, and reposition how they play. We are really looking forward to seeing what this mix of players can deliver together. The countdown to Rugby World Cup has begun.”

Saturday, 14 November
Black Ferns v New Zealand Barbarians presented by Downer
The Trusts Arena, Waitakere in Auckland
Kick-off: 4.35pm
NB: this match is part of a women’s rugby triple header match day which includes NZ Defence Force v NZ Police (11.35am), and a RWC 2021 qualification match between Samoa v Tonga (2.05pm).

Saturday, 21 November
Black Ferns v New Zealand Barbarians presented by Downer
Trafalgar Park, Nelson
Kick-off: 4.35pm

Matches will be broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport

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