Kiwi Ferns Head Coach, Kelvin Wright has named his 19-women squad ahead of the highly anticipated Trans-Tasman Triple-Header on 13 October.
Amongst the 19 is halfback Kimiora Nati who will be riding the high after picking up a hat-trick at last night’s inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership grand-final, driving the Brisbane Broncos to their Premiership title. She also received recognition for her outstanding grand-final display taking home the Player of the Grand-Final award. Nati is joined by several of her teammates who were stand-outs during the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup including 2017 NZRL Women’s Player of the Year, fullback Apii Nicholls.
At a press conference today, Nicholls wore the new Kiwi Ferns playing jersey to mark the New Zealand Rugby League’s (NZRL) new partnership with apparel provider, ISC. NZRL CEO Greg Peters announced he was “really excited to have such a reputable and high-quality apparel company such as ISC on board,”
“It’s important that our Kiwi Ferns are outfitted in a brand that is renowned for producing quality rugby league gear – that’s ISC,” he said.
Brett Corrick from ISC reciprocated the excitement saying, “it is a great honour and privilege to be the official apparel partner of the New Zealand Rugby League, a brand that lives by the values of integrity, respect, leadership, courage, passion,”
“We look forward to seeing both the players and their passionate fans wearing the ISC gear with pride and going on their sporting journey together,” Corrick said.
In addition to Nicholls and Nati, seven other players were in the Counties Manukau Stingrays who took out their ninth successive National Women’s Tournament title this year. One of those players being Kiwi Ferns veteran, Laura Mariu who is no stranger to the Trans-Tasman rivalry having played in all five Women’s World Cups to date. Her stellar National Women’s Tournament earlier in the year saw her then progress into the Women’s Warriors squad which she captained in the four-week competition.
Another veteran to sport the black and white again is Honey Hireme. She first played for the Kiwi Ferns 16 years ago in 2002, and after a brilliant stint with the St George Illawarra Dragons, she will look to back-up her fine form in the World Cup where she was top try-scorer.
Kelvin Wright said his team is filled with “some great leadership and experience mixed with some exciting youth whose form has been too hard to ignore.”
“It’s always extra special when you can hand players their debut,” he added. One of those Kiwi Ferns debutants is Counties Manukau Stingrays centre Onjeurlina Leiataua, a proven powerhouse in her breakout season with the Warriors. She is joined by Broncos utility Lavinia Gould and Cantabrian Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa-Pauaraisa who make up the three debutants in the squad.
As expected, the selection process was difficult as Wright admits, “there’s been a lot of Kiwi talent on show and excitement is certainly brewing amongst the women as the 13 October Trans-Tasman Triple-Header nears.”
Last year marked the first time Australian based Kiwis were eligible to play in the Kiwi Ferns jumper, an opportunity halfback Raecene McGregor and Gisborne born Nita Maynard relished with both hands. The two of them have again earnt a spot in the Kiwi Ferns after fantastic performances for the St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters respectively, Maynard playing hooker for the Roosters who finished runners-up in the grand-final.
“For all involved now we are looking forward to getting into camp and putting our full efforts into preparing for our clash against the Jillaroos,” Wright said.
The Kiwi Ferns go into camp on 7 October in preparation for the Trans-Tasman Triple-Header at Mt Smart on 13 October.
To buy tickets, click the Ticketek link here. Adult ticket prices start from $35.
Saturday, 13 October
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos 3.05pm
Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos 5.15pm
Kiwis v Kangaroos 7.45pm
Kiwi Ferns listed by NRLW team:
New Zealand Warriors: Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Apii Nicholls, Langi Veainu, Amber Kani, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Aieshaleigh Smalley, Laura Mariu, *Onjeurlina Leiataua, *Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa-Pauaraisa; Brisbane Broncos: Ngatokotoru Arakua, Karley Te Kawa, Kimiora Nati, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Maitua Feterika, *Lavinia Gould, Lilieta Maumau; St George Illawarra Dragons: Honey Hireme, Raecene McGregor; Sydney Roosters: Nita Maynard