PREVIEW: Black Ferns v Canada (Waitākere)

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Last Monday, Ruahei Demant’s team defeated Australia 23-10 in Tauranga, its first international victory since 2019, and gave a solid second half display in the wet conditions after being guilty of some over-ambition and poor execution in the first stanza in the face of a very competitive Wallaroos outfit.


The rain has followed the Black Ferns to Auckland and it looks like wet weather tactics will be the order of the day, putting the onus on the forward pack, the defence and the kicking game, against the world’s No 3-ranked team.


Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith and his selectors have rung the changes, no less than eight of them in the starting XV, in fact, as they seek to give more opportunities and gel combinations. There is a new-look to the pack, with the entire front-row changed out. Luka Connor and Tanya Kalounivale both made telling impacts from the bench against Australia.


Hazel Tubic slots in at No 10, and it will be fascinating to see if this versatile talent can drive the team with authority as she did at times in the second stanza against Australia. Her partnership with Kendra Cocksedge will be important, the halfback returning to top form against Australia, having a hand in three of the four tries. Captain Demant moves out one spot.


Centre Amy du Plessis of Matatū and Canterbury makes her Test debut and has benefitted this week from some mentoring by former All Blacks great Conrad Smith. Also in line for her debut is teenage midfielder Sylvia Brunt, who is fresh out of school and scored the first try in women’s Super Rugby last year for the Blues against the Chiefs at Eden Park. The seasoned Renee Wickliffe comes onto the bench for potentially her 44th international.



The Black Ferns will try and use the ball and the blindside, but may be restricted by the weather, which is not promising for Auckland, and how much latitude they are given by Canada.


The Canadians looked good in beating USA 36-5 on Monday in the rain, running in six tries. Lock Tyson Beukeboom, loosehead prop Olivia DeMerchant and blindside Pamphinette Buisa were the standouts, along with the goalkicking No 8 and skipper Sophie de Goede, who was adjudged player of the match.


De Goede’s parents are both former captains of Canada, Hans de Goede and Stephanie White, so her genes are impeccable.


“On the back of our victory against the USA, we’re looking forward to facing New Zealand,” says Head Coach Kevin Rouet.


“The team has performed in practice this week and they are ready for this match. This fixture will be another opportunity for us to put our plans into action and provides more important game time as our preparations for the Rugby World Cup continue.”


Canada knows an historic first victory over the Black Ferns, or even a draw, would lift it to a high of second on the World Rugby rankings, while the home side would drop to fourth.


This is the 16th international between the two teams, dating back to 1991 at the World Cup. The last encounter was in 2019 in San Diego, the Black Ferns prevailing 35-20.


Referee Amber McLachlan of Australia will officiate in the land of her birth for the first time, having been born in New Zealand and crossed the Tasman when she was eight.


Kickoff is at 2.45pm on Sunday from Trusts Arena, Waitakere, in west Auckland, and will be televised on Spark Sport, preceded, at 12.15pm, by the Australian Wallaroos versus the USA Eagles. Auckland’s Maggie Cogger-Orr will take the whistle for that one. Get your tickets HERE.



Black Ferns: 1. Pip Love 2. Luke Connor 3. Tanya Kalounivale 4. Maia Roos 5. Joanah Ngan-Woo 6. Alana Bremner 7. Tafito Lafaele 8. Kaipo Olsen-Baker 9. Kendra Cocksedge 10. Hazel Tubic 11. Ayesha Leti-I’iga 12. Ruahei Demant (c) 13. Amy du Plessis 14. Ruby Tui 15. Cheyelle Robins-Reti

Reserves: 16. Georgia Ponsonby 17. Angel Mulu 18. Amy Rule 19. Chelsea Bremner 20. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u/Kendra Reynolds 21. Ariana Bayler/Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu 22. Sylvia Brunt 23. Renee Wickliffe


Canada: 1. Olivia DeMerchant 2. Emily Tuttosi 3. DaLeaka Menin 4. Tyson Beukeboom 5. Courtney Holtkamp 6. Pamphinette Buisa 7. Sara Svoboda 8. Sophie de Goede (c) 9. Briana Miller 10. Taylor Perry 11. Paige Farries 12. Alexandra Tessier 13. Sara Kaljuvee 14. Renee Gonzalez 15. Elissa Alarie

Reserves: 16. Veronica Harrigan 17. Brittany Kassil 18. Maya Montiel 19. Abby Duguid 20. McKinley Hunt 21. Anais Holly 22. Maddy Grant 23. Alysha Corrigan



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Campbell Burnes

Campbell Burnes has written on rugby since 2000 for a wide variety of publications, both in print and online, whilst also contributing to television and radio shows. His major gigs have seen him at Rugby News magazine (2005-12), in which he covered 50 Test matches, and the New Zealand Herald (2014-17). Burnes is one of the few in rugby media to have played international rugby, having appeared for Manu Samoa in 1995 and 2000 (seven games) as a No 10. He is now the editor of Rugby News magazine and co-editor of the Rugby Almanack.


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