Black Ferns inexperienced to defend Women’s World Cup title

New Zealand will bank on a relatively inexperienced squad to defend the Women’s Rugby World Cup on home soil from next month, with only nine of the 32 players named in the Black Ferns squad on Tuesday having featured in previous editions of the showpiece .

Director of Rugby Wayne Smith has sounded the changes since taking over the five-time world champions this year and 22 of the players he has selected, including all but one striker, have played 10 Tests or less.

Outside back Renee Wickliffe and scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge will play in their fourth World Cup, but there was no room in the squad for former Les Elder skipper, Lock Eloise Blackwell or Chelsea center Simple.

Fly-half Ruahei Demant, who took over from Elder and led the team to five wins in five Tests so far this year, has been confirmed as the team’s captain.

Smith, a highly regarded former All Blacks assistant coach, has included several players from the New Zealand sevens program to execute the high paced game he wants the Black Ferns to play.

Olympic champions Portia Woodman, Sarah Hirini and Stacey Fluhler have all been reinstated to the squad after missing the trial season due to duties at seven.

“We’ve talked a lot this year about wanting to play an exhilarating style of rugby,” Smith said. “We want to play above the opposition and that requires a certain set of skills which we have worked very hard on.

“There are a number of players who have had long and distinguished careers in the black shirt… and we know that, as with any campaign of this length, we may still see some of them called up to the team. ”

The Black Ferns have won five of the seven World Cups they have appeared in, but faced a major reality late last year when they were hammered twice by England and twice by France while touring Europe.

The ninth Women’s World Cup, delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, begins on October 8.


Forwards – Luka Connor, Natalie Delamere, Georgia Ponsonby, Tanya Kalounivale, Phillipa Love, Krystal Murray, Amy Rule, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Santo Taumata, Chelsea Bremner, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Charmaine McMenamin , Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Kendra Reynolds, Kennedy Simon

Fullbacks – Ariana Bayler, Kendra Cocksedge, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Ruahei Demant, Hazel Tubic, Sylvia Brunt, Amy du Plessis, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Stacey Fluhler, Renee Holmes, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Ruby Tui, Renee Wickliffe, Portia Woodman