Black Ferns Head Coach Glenn Moore has introduced two new players to his starting lineup for Saturday’s return match against the New Zealand Barbarians presented by Downer at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Wing Grace Steinmetz and fullback Renee Holmes will wear the Black Ferns jersey for the first time as Moore continues to test new combinations following the Black Ferns 34-15 win over the Barbarians at Waitakere.
Moore has also recalled loose forward Pia Tapsell (Bay of Plenty) and hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Northland) for their first start in the black jersey in 2020.
The Black Ferns final match of 2020 kicks off at 4.35pm at Trafalgar Park in Nelson and will be broadcast live on SKY Sport.
The Black Ferns squad is (Test caps in brackets, debut in bold)
- Phillipa Love (11)
- Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (31)
- Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (35)
- Eloise Blackwell (Captain, 43)
- Chelsea Bremner
- Pia Tapsell (6)
- Kennedy Simon (4)
- Charmaine McMenamin (25)
- Kendra Cocksedge (Vice Captain, 53)
- Ruahei Demant (11)
- Langi Veainu
- Chelsea Alley (24)
- Amy du Plessis
- Grace Steinmetz
- Renee Holmes
- Luka Connor (4)
- Toka Natua (22)
- Aldora Itunu (20)/Tanya Kalounivale
- Kelsie Wills
- Aroha Savage (33)
- Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (6)
- Hazel Tubic (11)
- Natahlia Moors (2)/Selica Winiata (40)
Saturday’s match will mark the third time 20-year-old Gisborne-born Holmes (Waikato) has achieved national sporting honours. At 16, she represented New Zealand in ultimate frisbee and at 17 she was part of the national age-grade football side. Holmes took up rugby in 2017 and last year was part of the Black Ferns Sevens development squad after catching the eyes of selectors at Red Bull Ignite7.
Canterbury’s Steinmetz (21) was a key cog in the red and blacks’ fourth Farah Palmer Cup title win last month. With a background in hockey and touch, she also turned to rugby in 2017 and was selected for the Black Ferns Sevens training squad two years later.
Moore said the multi-talented pair deserved their spots and were ready to take the next step.
“Both Grace and Renee are familiar with high performance environments which has made their transition into the Black Ferns easier.
“Grace has a high work rate and the ability to create opportunities on the field due to her elusive speed. We expect her to make a big impact on Saturday.
“Renee has impressed us during this year’s Farah Palmer Cup. Recently she switched to fullback after having played at both halfback and first five. It’s given her a sound understanding of the game and she’s a confident decision maker.”
After scoring two tries on debut, Langi Veainu (Counties Manuakau) has her second start on the wing, while Amy du Plessis (Otago) starts at center after covering the wing from the bench last week.
Following her first game in the black jersey last weekend, Canterbury’s Chelsea Bremner starts at lock, and fellow new second rower Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty) will back up from the bench.
Moore said the changes to the squad were an opportunity to try different combinations following some key learnings from the first match against the Barbarians.
“There’s a lot of talent in this team but at times we allowed the Baa Baas to gain momentum which put us under pressure. This week we’ve been polishing our basic skillset and focusing on defense.”
Moore said the Nelson had embraced the Black Ferns and the New Zealand Barbarians and both teams have enjoyed the connection with the community.
“Monday’s pōwhiri was really special and reminded us about the role the Black Ferns play in being a positive influence for young people. It was very humbling. We will have more opportunities to connect with the local community over the next couple of days.
“Saturday will be a great afternoon of rugby with our match against the New Zealand Barbarians followed by the Mitre 10 Cup semi-final between Tasman Mako and Bay of Plenty Steamers.”