Auckland, New Zealand, October 4, 2023
Kiwi Ferns head coach Ricky Henry has confirmed his squad for the 2023 Pacific Championship, which features 11 potential Kiwi Ferns debutantes.
Following their World Cup final loss to the Jillaroos last year, Henry calls on a fresh crop of NRLW talent set to stamp their mark on the international scene after impressive 2023 seasons.
Among the new debutantes is NRLW rookie of the year medallist Annessa Biddle, who took the NRLW by storm, earning two tries, 1366 running metres and 33 tackle breaks. After being voted the Rugby League Players’ Association NRLW Rookie of the Year, Biddle looks to continue her flying form in Black and White colours.
Joining Biddle in the squad is Sharks teammate and hooker Brooke Anderson. Anderson is no stranger to representative rugby league, having represented the Māori All-Stars and NSW Sky Blues in 2023.
Olympic gold medallist and dual code star Tyla Nathan-Wong gets her first Kiwi Ferns selection after an impressive debut NRLW season alongside halves partner and Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor. Dragon’s teammate Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa also gets her maiden call-up.
Wests Tigers duo Leianne Tufuga and Najvada George join the squad after they combined for 2163 running metres this season, with Tufuga scoring five tries in nine appearances.
Newcomers Jasmine Fogavini of the Brisbane Broncos and Amelia Pasikala of the Sydney Roosters help strengthen an already dominant forward pack. While Auckland and Taupō natives, Cheyelle Robins-Reti and Ashleigh Quinlan are named after stand-out seasons for the Canberra Raiders.
Dally M Centre of the Year Mele Hufanga returns to the Kiwi Ferns after a break-out NRLW season with the Broncos. Veterans Georgia Hale, Apii Nicholls and Mya Hill-Moana also return, while 2023 NRLW champions Shanice Parker, Laishon Albert-Jones and Abigail Roache look to carry on their winning momentum.
“We’ve listed an impressive group of players who have rightfully earned their spots, and we acknowledge them for their form in the NRLW competition,” Henry said.
“The depth we have and the new generation of players coming through is exciting. I’m confident our newcomers will flourish alongside our World Cup campaigners and veteran leaders who set an excellent foundation for us last year.
“The Jillaroos are world-class, and Tonga is no easy feat, but I’m confident in this playing group. I know everyone can’t wait to get out there.”
2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Squad:
* denotes potential debut