Making her debut in the No 15 jersey is Kelly Brazier, 20, from Otago. She will be joined by Canterbury’s Casey Robertson and vice-captain Amiria Rule (nee Marsh) who both return to the squad having last played in the final at the 2006 World Cup in which New Zealand beat England.
Evans said he was very pleased with the squad’s progress during their short time together.
“We’ve been together only one week and have travelled a long way for these Tests, but the players are fit, focused and ready to go,” said Evans.
“The experience of the more seasoned players, as well as those returning to the team, has been invaluable for the newcomers. This is a pretty special squad.”
Victoria Heighway, the most capped Black Fern with 26 caps, will captain the side for the first time after Canterbury’s Melissa Ruscoe was ruled out of the tour with concussion. Heighway said she was very excited about the upcoming encounter.
“It’s been a long time since we met the English on the field, so this first Test is one we’re very much looking forward to,” said Heighway.
The team suffered another blow with Ruscoe’s replacement, Auckland’s Aroha Savage, rupturing her Achilles tendon the day before the team departed on Monday night. Savage will be out of rugby for at least seven months.
Wellington’s Aimee Sutorius has joined the team to as a replacement for Savage.
The Black Ferns will play England A on Tuesday followed by a second Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday 21 November.
The Black Ferns to play England on Saturday
1 Ruth McKay
2 Fiao’o Faamausili
3 Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox
4 Kimberly Smith
5 Victoria Heighway (captain)
6 Linda Itunu
7 Justine Lavea
8 Casey Robertson
9 Emma Jensen
10 Rebecca Mahoney
11 Carla Hohepa
12 Amiria Rule (vice-captain)
13 Huriana Manuel
14 Victoria Grant
15 Kelly Brazier (debut)
16 Claire Rowat
17 Beth Mallard
18 Vita Robinson
19 Olivia Coady
20 Kendra Cocksedge
21 Renee Wickliffe
22 Anika Tiplady
Black Ferns tour to England match schedule (all times are England time)
Saturday 14 November v England, Esher RFC, kick off 4.00pm
Tuesday 17 November v England A, Esher RFC, kick off 7.00pm
Saturday 21 November v England, Twickenham, kick off 4.45pm