Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan has named nine Warriors players in his 19-strong squad ahead of their clash against Fetu Samoa to launch the inaugural Oceania Cup at Mount Smart Stadium on June 22.
The nine from the Warriors' 2018 WNRL squad are Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Georgia Hale, Amber Kani, Hilda Mariu, Apii Nicholls, Annetta Nuuausala, Krystal Rota, Aeishaleigh Smalley and Crystal Tamarua.
The all-Pacific doubleheader will see the Kiwi Ferns take on Fetu Samoa for the first time in 11 years ahead of the much-anticipated rematch between the New Zealand Kiwis and Mate Ma‘a Tonga.
The Kiwi Ferns will be captained by 2018 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year and veteran centre Honey Hireme, who first wore the black and white jersey 17 years ago.
She’s joined by a number of stand-out players from last year’s blockbuster Trans-Tasman Triple Header including 2017 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year and star fullback Apii Nicholls, centre Amber Kani and front rowers Annetta Nuuausala and Aeishaleigh Smalley – all with the Warriors – plus St George Illawarra halfback Raecene McGregor, Sydney Roosters hooker Nita Maynard, Brisbane Broncos second rower Teuila Fotu-Moala and Warriors playmakers Georgia Hale and Raquel Anderson-Pitman.
Four Kiwi Ferns debutantes have been named including Jules Newman (Mt Albert), Madison Bartlett and Charntay Poko (Richmond Rovers) and Sydney based Kiana Takairangi.
“We’re really lucky to have that mix of leadership and young talent in the team,” said Morgan.
“The girls are eager to take the field again in the black and white and a lot of them are following on from last year’s triple header Test, which is a strength for us.
“The narrow loss to the Aussies still hurts and we know Samoa will come out firing, but we’ve got some great leaders who will bring that invaluable experience, coupled with exciting new debutantes, so we’ll be bringing our best game.
“We’re really looking forward to getting into camp and focusing all our efforts on the Test.”
Gates at Mount Smart Stadium will open at 2.00pm on June 22 with the Kiwi Ferns v Fetu Samoa match kicking off at 3.10pm and the New Zealand Kiwis and Mate Ma‘a Tonga match kicking off at 5.40pm.
KIWI FERNS SQUAD
AMBER PARIS HALL