Black Ferns named to face Australia in O'Reilly Cup

Black Ferns named to face Australia in O'Reilly Cup

The O’Reilly Cup, presented by Ryman Healthcare, will be on the line this weekend when the Trans-Tasman rivalry resumes at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. The Black Ferns coaching group have named an exciting twenty-three, featuring the inclusion of experienced campaigners Alana Bremner and Renee Holmes for their final Test of the Pacific Four Series, on Saturday 25 May, kick-off at 2.05pm

Black Ferns team to play Australia is (Test caps in brackets);
1. Chryss Viliko (4)
2. Georgia Ponsonby (22)
3. Amy Rule (21)     
4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (23)     
5. Alana Bremner (19)
6. Liana Mikaele-Tu'u (20)
7. Kennedy Simon (co-captain) (22)     
8. Kaipo Olsen-Baker (4)
9. Iritana Hohaia (8)
10. Hannah King (1) 
11. Katelyn Vahaakolo (8)     
12. Logo-i-Pulotu Lemapu-Atai'i (Sylvia) Brunt (15)     
13. Amy du Plessis (16)     
14. Mererangi Paul (7) 
15. Renee Holmes (16)

16. Luka Connor (22)     
17. Marcelle Parkes (5)
18. Aldora Itunu (25)    
19. Charmaine Smith (31)    
20. Layla Sae (5)     
21. Maia Joseph (2)
22. Ruahei Demant (co-captain) (35)
23. Grace Steinmetz (2)    

A powerful forward pack will take the field with tighthead prop Amy Rule earning her first start of the series and combining with Chryss Viliko and Georgia Ponsonby in the front row. In-form lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos will combine with the experienced Alana Bremner, who is in line to play her 20th Test in the Black Ferns jersey, her first start at lock. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u will shift back to the blindside making way for Kaipo Olsen-Baker to start at number eight, with loose forward Layla Sae set to make an impact off the bench this weekend.

In the backline, Hurricanes Poua halves combination of Iritana Hohaia and Hannah King earn their first Test starts of the season. The relentless midfield combination of Sylvia Brunt and Amy du Plessis remain, alongside left winger Katelyn Vahaakolo. Mererangi Paul will shift to the right wing, with Renee Holmes named to start at fullback.

Marcelle Parkes makes her Black Ferns return for the first time since 2019, as loosehead prop. Halfback Maia Joseph and Black Ferns co-captain Ruahei Demant will be a notable injection off the bench. Finishing off the changes, midfielder Grace Steinmetz edges her way into the twenty-three. 

Bunting said he was excited to see the growth in this squad. 

“We have taken some critical learnings from our game against Canada. This is now our opportunity to move on and take this next challenge against Australia. There is a great rivalry between our two nations, we know Australia are coming off some pain as well and know how well they played at the end of last year. 

“We are looking to see change in our mental preparation this week. Alongside this, we have a refreshed starting fifteen, which is growing the depth in our squad, and offers them an opportunity to show their capabilities in what will be another intense battle.”

Bunting congratulated Bremner on her impending milestone.

“Alana lives everything it means to be a Black Fern. She is a constant professional and leads by example. She has worked very diligently the last couple of weeks, and we are looking forward to seeing her play this weekend,” said Bunting.

Media Opportunity: Black Ferns Director of Rugby Allan Bunting and Black Ferns Captain Kennedy Simon will be available for an all-in media opportunity, followed by Black Ferns Alana Bremner and Marcelle Parkes. This will be at 2.00pm at Pullman Hotel, Auckland, please RSVP to Amanda Meade on the contact details below to confirm your attendance.

Key Facts: 

  • O’Reilly Cup is named in honour of Laurie O’Reilly, the first Black Ferns coach and New Zealand lawyer who was a major advocate of the women’s game.
  • This will be the 15th time the O'Reilly Cup will be contested.
  • The Black Ferns and Wallaroos first played for the Cup in 1994. The Black Ferns won 37-0 in Sydney.
  • Alana Bremner is in-line to play her 20th Test for the Black Ferns.
  • Marcelle Parkes makes her Black Ferns return for the first time since 2019, this time as loosehead prop.
  • This will be the second Black Ferns Test held at North Harbour Stadium and the first time the Black Ferns have played Australia at North Harbour Stadium.

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