Sevens star Ruby Tui named Black Ferns first team of the year ahead of Rugby World Cup

Ruby Tui was named to the Black Ferns' 15-team squad for the first time.

Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Ruby Tui was named to the Black Ferns’ 15-team squad for the first time.

The Black Ferns have unveiled their first team of the year ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October and November.

This is the first time the Women’s World Cup will be held in Aotearoa.

Wayne Smith, who has been appointed director of rugby for the Black Ferns to replace outgoing coach Glenn Moore, named his 31-man squad for next month’s Pacific Four Series in Auckland on Wednesday.

Wayne Smith, centre, addresses Black Ferns players during a training session in Christchurch (FILE PHOTO).

Martin Hunter/PHOTOSPORT

Wayne Smith, centre, addresses Black Ferns players during a training session in Christchurch (FILE PHOTO).

Sevens star Ruby Tui was one of 10 uncapped players, along with hooker Natalie Delamere, props Lucy Anderson, Tanya Kalounivale, Angel Mulu, lock Chelsea Bremner, loose forwards Tafito Lafaele and Kaipo Olsen-Baker, and backs Amy du Plessis Grace Steinmetz.

READ MORE:
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* Gold medal-winning trainer Allan Bunting is tasked with overhauling the Black Ferns culture
* Black Ferns: New coaching boss Wayne Smith says ‘there are promising signs’
* Wayne Smith confirmed as Black Ferns Director of Rugby to replace Glenn Moore

Stalwarts Les Elder and Eloise Blackwell were not included and first five-eighth Ruahei Demant was named the new captain.

Those unavailable due to injury are Charmaine McMenamin, Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, Grace Brooker, Kelsie Wills and Kennedy Simon.

The Black Ferns host the Pacific Four Series and will face Australia, Canada and the United States.

The Kiwi world champion will also play two O’Reilly Cup Tests against Australia in August.

It’s been a turbulent start to the year for the Black Ferns after a damning review of team culture was released last month.

CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson and panel members Phillipa Muir and Tammi Wilson Uluinayau give a team culture review press conference.

Moore, who led the Black Ferns to their World Cup victory in 2017, resigned as coach in the fallout.

Smith leads the new coaching staff, with Wesley Clarke and Whitney Hansen as assistants, and World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry has joined in a supporting role.

The Black Ferns have dominated the game since the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, winning five world titles and the last tournament in 2017.

However, they have fallen behind European powerhouses England and France, who are the two favorites for this year’s World Cup.

The Black Ferns have lost four Tests in a row by record margins against England and France on last year’s northern tour.

Their World Cup campaign begins against Australia at Eden Park on October 8.

Black Ferns Squad

Prostitutes: Luka Connor, Natalie Delamere, Georgia Ponsonby.

Accessories : Lucy Anderson, Tanya Kalounivale, Pip Love, Angel Mulu, Krystal Murray, Leilani Perese, Amy Rule.

Locks: Chelsea Bremner, Joanah Ngan Woo, Maiakawanakaukani Roos.

Loose forwards: Alana Bremner, Tafito Lafaele, Liana Mikaele Tu’u, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Kendra Reynolds.

Half-back: Ariana Bayler, Kendra Cocksedge, Arihiana Marino-Tauhini.

Inside back: Ruahei Demant, Amy du Plessis, Carla Hohepa, Patricia Maliepo, Chelsea Semple.

Outer backs: Renee Holmes, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Grace Steinmetz, Ruby Tui.

MORE SOON

Pacific Four Series

June 6 at Tauranga Estate, Tauranga: Canada vs. United States, 12:15 p.m.; Black Ferns vs Australia, 2:45 p.m.

June 12 at Trusts Arena, Auckland: United States vs. Australia, 12:15 p.m.; Black Ferns vs. Canada, 2:45 p.m.

June 18 at Semenoff Stadium, Whangārei: Australia vs Canada, 1:30 p.m.; Black Ferns vs. United States, 4 p.m.

O’Reilly Cup

20 August : Black Ferns vs Australia, 7.05pm, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

August 27: Black Ferns v Australia, time TBC, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide.

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