New Blues recruit Bayler ready to make mark on No.9 jersey

The decision to switch Super Rugby teams is often a difficult one for players, but Ariana Bayler’s confident a move north of the Bombays will put her in good stead next time Black Ferns duties roll around.

The 25-year-old’s moving north from Chiefs Manawa where last season she shared halfback duties with fellow World Cup winner Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu.

"I think it’s an exciting opportunity for both of us to play head-to-head and give each other a good run," she told 1News from her home in Hamilton.

The shift is a timely one.

Kendra Cocksedge has had a stranglehold on the Black Ferns' No.9 jersey for nearly a decade, and her retirement from the game after their successful World Cup campaign leaves it up for grabs.

"I would really like to fill her boots but also I would like to play as me too," Bayler says.

Kendra Cocksedge and Ariana Bayler.

"[I’m] really trying to play my own game this season and I really feel like the Blues can help me do that."

The former Hamilton Girls’ High School student’s had an injury-disrupted career, making her debut against England last year before being named in this year’s World Cup squad.

There she started one match – the Ferns' pool game against Wales – and came off the bench behind Cocksedge in the quarter-final.

The shift will also mean she can solidify a combination with Blues first-five Ruahei Demant, who was recently named Women’s 15s Player of the Year at the World Rugby Awards.


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