NZ Herald

11 May, 2024 01:50 AM3 mins to read

Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant. Photo / Photosport

Live updates of the Pacific Four Series test between the Black Ferns and USA.

Black Ferns - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

Three players are set to make their international debuts in the first Black Ferns test of 2024.

Super Rugby Aupiki stand-out lock Maama Mo’onia Vaipulu and halfback Maia Joseph have been named in the starting fifteen against US in Hamilton on Saturday, while first five-eighth Hannah King is set to debut off the bench.

“Each of these ladies have continued to impress us since joining the Black Ferns squad,” said Black Ferns director of rugby Allan Bunting.

“They have worked diligently and it’s awesome to be able to reward them with this opportunity and enjoy the occasion.

“It will be a special moment for them and their whānau and one they should be proud of.

“We are all excited for them and have their backs this weekend.”

A powerful forward pack will see Kate Henwood combine with starting hooker Georgia Ponsonby and tighthead Tanya Kalounivale. The formidable Blues locking duo of Maiakawanakaulani Roos and Vaipulu will complete the tight five. A loose forward trio of Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, at blindside, Black Ferns co-captain Kennedy Simon at openside and Layla Sae at No.8 will complete a strong forward pack.

In the backs, Joseph and Black Ferns co-captain Ruahei Demant have been named as the starting halves combination. Last year’s sensational pairing of Sylvia Brunt and Amy du Plessis will cover the midfield at second-five and centre respectively. The back three will see Katelyn Vahaakolo and Ruby Tui on the wings, with Mererangi Paul named at fullback.

The forwards reserves include front rowers Luka Connor, Chryss Viliko and Amy Rule, experienced lock Charmaine Smith and returning loose forward Kaipo Olsen-Baker. The backline trio of Iritana Hohaia, King and Patricia Maliepo will also be eager to impress off the bench.

Bunting said that he believes the 23 selected are energised and eager for the opportunity to open their test season at home.

“We have seen consistency in a few areas we have been working through and we are looking forward to seeing this in our opening test.

“Our coaching group have been pleased with the intent and focus our squad have been putting in.

“We know our ladies are eager to kick-off their international season and take on the USA in front of our fans at home.”

Black Ferns team to play US is (test caps in brackets);

1. Kate Henwood (4)

2. Georgia Ponsonby (20)

3. Tanya Kalounivale (11)

4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (21)

5. Maama Mo’onia Vaipulu*

6. Liana Mikaele Tu’u (18)

7. Kennedy Simon (20) (co-captain)

8. Layla Sae (3)

9. Maia Joseph*

10. Ruahei Demant (33) (co-captain)

11. Katelyn Vahaakolo (6)

12. Logo-i-Pulotu Lemapu-Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt (13)

13. Amy du Plessis (14)

14. Ruby Tui (13)

15. Mererangi Paul (5)


16. Luka Connor (20)

17. Chryss Viliko (2)

18. Amy Rule (19)

19. Charmaine Smith (29)

20. Kaipo Olsen-Baker (2)

21. Iritana Hohaia (6)

22. Hannah King*

23. Patrica Maliepo (7)

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