Marino-Tauhinu proud to lead the Black Ferns on home turf

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One of the most significant changes is the appointment of halfback Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu as captain for a game that is only her second start. It is also being played on her home turf.

Smith said: "I want Arihiana to lead up here. She was the player of the match the last time we played here. She galvanizes the tone.

"We've made some changes. We've got some girls who need to recover from some slight injuries. So, we've got a different kind of squad compared to the other day, and Arihiana will be very positive.

"She is in our leadership group. She leads the haka and she's a great player. She covers halfback and first five-eighths and it's the right thing to have her play on home turf."

It will be the first time she will play in the inside backs with Hazel Tubic, who is making her first start of the tournament.

Smith said the game was important for the side as it would determine where it sits in the quarterfinal schedule, and they have a chance to win the No1 ranking among the final eight.

Marino-Tauhinu said she was speechless when advised she was to be captain. She had been pulled to the side during training and told she would have the role.

She said she was proud to be given the captaincy, and being from Northland, she felt it was an aspirational example for young girls in the region.

As a young Northlander, she never thought she would become a Black Fern.

"There were not that many teams playing up here back then and it wasn't really a pathway to the black jersey."

Leading the side was also a reward for overcoming injury over the last 18 months. The goal of playing at the World Cup was motivation during her recovery.

Scotland coach Bryan Easson believes the Black Ferns will be vulnerable in the set-pieces, but Smith has brought back props, Phillipa Love and Amy Rule. Maiakawanakaulani Roos will start again at lock, and Sarah Hirini will start on the openside of the scrum with Liana Mikaele-Tu'u back at No8.

Ayesha Leti-l'iga will make her World Cup debut on the left wing after recovering from injury.

New Zealand goes into the game having scored 17 tries, the most in the competition. They have made the most line breaks (21), the most offloads (40) and tackle breaks (81).


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