New Zealand will field a team steeped in experience when they seek to preserve their perfect women’s rugby record against the Wallaroos.
The five-time defending World Cup winners are favoured to rack up a 17th win over Australia when they meet in Perth on Saturday in the first of two tests in the Laurie O’Reilly Cup series.
Evidence of the depth at coach Glenn Moore’s disposal is that captain Les Elder is the fourth most inexperienced player in the team. The flanker has earned 16 caps.
The most accomplished Black Ferns player is halfback and reigning world player of the year Kendra Cocksedge, who has played 51 tests. Nine of her teammates have played more than 20, eclipsing any player from the Wallaroos, who have a far lighter schedule.
Since New Zealand won last year’s trans-Tasman double-header, Australia have played two tests, against lowly Japan.
The Black Ferns have played seven times, including victory at the Super Series tournament last month in San Diego where they won three out of four tests against the world’s other leading nations.
Moore has named two uncapped players on his bench – North Harbour prop Olivia Ward-Duin and Otago midfield back Kilisitina Moata’ane.
BLACK FERNS: 1-Toka Natua, 2-Te Kura Ngata- Aerengamate, 3-Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, 4-Eloise Blackwell, 5-Charmaine Smith, 6-Pia Tapsell, 7- Les Elder (capt), 8-Charmaine McMenamin, 9-Kendra Cocksedge, 10-Ruahei Demant, 11-Ayesha Leti-l’iga, 12-Chelsea Alley, 13-Carla Hohepa, 14-Renee Wickliffe, 15-Selica Winiata
Reserves: 16-Forne Burkin, 17-Leilani Perese, 18-Olivia Ward-Duin, 19-Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20-Kennedy Simon, 21-Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, 22-Krysten Cottrell, 23-Kilisitina Moata’ane.