Hirini makes final cut as Smith's Black Ferns RWC squad named

Source: 1News

Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith has named his squad for this year's Rugby World Cup in Aotearoa, naming Sevens star Sarah Hirini while leaving out some other big New Zealand names.

Hirini was named in the loose forwards for the 32-strong squad on Tuesday afternoon in Auckland ahead of next month's tournament.

The Black Ferns Sevens captain has had little involvement with the 15s side this season after committing herself to the shorter format for the Commonwealth Games and recent World Cup where they won bronze and silver medals, respectively.

However Hirini - who did captain the Hurricanes' Super Rugby Aupiki team this year - along with Theresa Fitzpatrick, Stacey Fluhler and Portia Woodman were sevens players selected by Smith for the tournament.

Former Black Ferns Sevens star Ruby Tui, who committed herself to the 15s game this season with the World Cup in mind, was also named.

Ruby Tui celebrates her second try against Canada at Trusts Arena.

Another notable Sevens name that didn't make the cut though was Tyla Nathan-Wong who also missed the Rugby Sevens World Cup last week after suffering a concussion in her Test debut for the Black Ferns.

Unlike her noted absence for the Sevens, Nathan-Wong was not listed as a player who was unavailable for selection on Tuesday; Grace Booker, Kaipo Olsen-Baker and Aleisha Pearl Nelson were given such a listing though.

Other big names missing from the squad include former captains Eloise Blackwell and Les Elder, although both had been out of favour with Smith and selectors this year regardless.

Sarah Hirini makes a run for New Zealand during the gold medal final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“It’s important to make note of those players that missed out," Smith said.

"This selection process has been incredibly difficult as the standard of players we have seen across the country this year has been impressive.

“There are a number of players who have had long, distinguished careers in the black jersey and their contribution to this team has been crucial in getting the team to where it is today. And we know as with any campaign of this length, we may still see some of them called into the squad."

The Black Ferns and their new head coach Wayne Smith will play three home tests in June.

Smith's full squad was read out by Former Black Fern and current NZR board deputy chair Dr Farah Palmer and featured a majority of the squad he's been working with since joining the team in April this year.

"This is an incredibly special moment for the players selected and on behalf of the coaching group I want to congratulate all those named in today's squad," Smith said.

Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon will co-captain the side for the campaign while veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge, who announced her retirement after this season earlier this month, has also been selected.

The Black Ferns squad will assemble in Auckland on Monday in advance of their first Test match against Japan at Eden Park.

They will then stay assembled through to the start of the Rugby World Cup which kicks off at Eden Park on 8 October.

Black Ferns RWC Squad

Hookers: Luka Connor, Natalie Delamere, Georgia Ponsonby

Props: Tanya Kalounivale, Phillipa Love, Krystal Murray, Amy Rule, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Santo Taumata

Locks: Chelsea Bremner, Joanah Ngan-Woo , Maiakawanakaulani Roos

Loose Forwards: Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Charmaine McMenamin, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Kendra Reynolds, Kennedy Simon

Halfbacks: Ariana Bayler, Kendra Cocksedge, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu

First Five-Eighths: Ruahei Demant, Hazel Tubic

Midfielders: Sylvia Brunt, Amy du Plessis, Theresa Fitzpatrick

Outside Backs: Stacey Fluhler, Renee Holmes, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Ruby Tui, Renee Wickliffe, Portia Woodman

Unavailable due to injury: Grace Brooker, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Aleisha Pearl Nelson