The Black Ferns kick off the Series against England at Eden Park on 13 July – a match to be played ahead of the Round 20 Investec Super Rugby Blues v Chiefs derby match. Both teams then head to Waikato Stadium for the second Test on 16 July before closing out at Pukekohe’s ECOLight Stadium on 20 July.
The 2013 Black Ferns squad (* denotes new cap) is:
Melodie Bosman, Wellington
Fiao’o Fa’amausili, captain, Auckland
Ruth McKay, Manawatu
Karina Stowers Auckland
Stephanie Te Ohaere – Fox, Canterbury
Kathleen Wilton, Otago
Eloise Blackwell, Auckland
Vita Dryden, Auckland
Jackie Patea, Wellington
Rawinia Everitt, Counties Manukau
Justine Lavea, Auckland
Charmaine McMenamin, Auckland *
Casey Robertson, Canterbury
Aroha Savage, Counties Manukau
Kendra Cocksedge, Canterbury
Emma Jensen, Auckland
Kelly Brazier, Otago
Amiria Rule, Canterbury
Chelsea Alley, Waikato *
Mele Hufanga, Auckland *
Onjeurlina Leiataua, Auckland *
Claire Richardson, Auckland
Victoria Grant , vice-captain, Waikato
Selica Winiata , Manawatu
Portia Woodman, Auckland *
Renee Wickliffe, Counties Manukau
Evans has named five new caps in the squad including 17-year-old Papatoetoe High School student Onjeurlina Leiataua, 18-year-old Mele Hufanga also of Auckland, former Mystics netballer turned Sevens champion Portia Woodman (Auckland), Chelsea Alley (Waikato) and Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland).
Newcomer Woodman is one of four Black Ferns currently on duty with the World Series champion New Zealand Women’s Sevens team heading to Moscow, Russia for the Rugby World Cup Sevens next week. She is joined by fellow Sevens squad members, experienced first-five-eighth Kelly Brazier of Otago, Manawatu police officer Selica Winiata, and Counties Manukau’s Renee Wickliffe.
The squad sees Fiao’o Fa’amausili (Auckland) named captain for her second campaign, with veteran Black Fern Victoria Grant (Waikato) coming back from injury to regain her spot in the side, and the deputy duties.
“We’re really excited about the squad we have selected. We think we have got a good balance of new and young talent and some great experience.
“This is an excellent opportunity to introduce our newer players into the Black Ferns environment ahead of next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“Over the course of our selection process we were very impressed with the speed and form of the players in camp. We think we have a great squad with some excellent form among the backs and we are delighted with our options at first five.
“The Black Ferns strength and conditioning programme has been focussed and very organised, and we are feeling very positive about where we are at for both this International Series and as we look ahead to next year’s World Cup.
“There is no doubt that England will be tough – we were disappointed to come home from our tour without a win in 2012. We know will still have power up front, but we’re expecting them to be fast and strong.
“However, we are confident that the mix of talent and experienced heads as well as a having a home advantage will bring out the best in our players so we are really looking forward to hosting England next month,” Evans said.
Black Ferns v England International Series 2013
Saturday 13 July: Eden Park, Auckland kickoff 5:05pm
Tuesday 16 July: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, kickoff 7:00pm
Saturday 20 July: ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, kickoff 2:35pm