Final three contracted Black Ferns players confirmed for 2023

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Sky Super Rugby Aupiki standouts, Hurricanes Poua halfback Hohaia and Chiefs Manawa prop Henwood have earnt their first fulltime Black Ferns contract, while Black Ferns Rugby World Cup champion Tui will re-join the squad following a sabbatical.

Black Ferns Director of Rugby Allan Bunting congratulated the final three additions to the 2023 contracted group.

“Iritana and Kate, emerged as outstanding players for their respective clubs during the Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season. I’m really stoked to have them both on board now and look forward to what they will both bring to the Black Ferns. We are pleased to have Ruby back. What she brings on and off the field is something very special and I know that it will be welcomed when she returns from her sabbatical.”

Blues prop Chryss Viliko will also join the squad for the next four months as an injury replacement player for Awhina Tangen Wainohu, who has been side-lined with a neck injury.

“Unfortunately, Awhina sustained a neck injury in the lead into Sky Super Rugby Aupiki, which has since ruled her out of the Pacific Four Series. We wish her all the best with her recovery. This has given Chryss the opportunity to join the Black Ferns group for the next four months. This will be a great experience for her to return to the environment again after having a taste last year and first camp.”

The Black Ferns will come together again in mid-May for another weeklong camp at the NZCIS in Wellington as they continue their preparations for their first O’Reilly Cup test which doubles as a Pacific Four Test match against Australia at Kayo Stadium, Brisbane on Thursday 29 June.

Iritana Hohaia Bio:
Iritana Hohaia hails from Ōpunake in Taranaki, and proudly plays for Taranaki Whio in the Farah Palmer Cup. The Hurricanes Poua halfback was called into the Black Ferns in 2021 for their northern tour but is still awaiting the opportunity to debut for the Black Ferns. She has also played representative basketball, Hohaia was a member of the gold medal winning New Zealand Sevens team at the Youth Olympics in 2018, scoring a try in the Final victory over France.

Kate Henwood Bio:
Loosehead prop Kate Henwood hails from Whakatane and has long been a notable player of the Bay of Plenty Volcanix Farah Palmer Cup side. The 34-year-old mother of three was called into the Chiefs Manawa team as an injury replacement player this year and grasped the opportunity with both hands. Henwood was soon identified as a standout player in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki, demonstrating her powerful strength and outstanding work ethic.

Chryss Viliko Bio:
Chryss is a prop to watch with a bright future. After fighting her way back from a serious knee injury, she is on a mission to make up for lost time. The mobile young prop has been part of the Auckland Storm Farah Palmer Cup squad since 2019 and plays club rugby for Marist. In 2021, Viliko was welcomed into the Blues squad for the inaugural Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition, however debuted the following year.  Chryss attended the Black Ferns trials in 2022, where she caught the eye of Black Ferns selectors.


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