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Kiwi Ferns become family affair

Kiwi Ferns become family affair

Three sisters and two of a kind sounds like a great poker hand, and it may also hold the key to Kiwi Ferns hopes of toppling archrivals Australia in their one-off test later this year.

National women's rugby league coach Rusty Matua has named 10 newcomers in his 18-strong line-up for the World Cup final rematch on November 9, uniting two sets of siblings at international level for the first time.

Hooker Hilda Peters joins younger sisters Rona and Kahurangi on the roster, while twins Sharnita Woodman and Kiwis Ferns rookie Shontelle Dudley will suit up in black together for the first time.

"I think it's quite cool to have that family flavour to our team and it's something we've tried to bring into our culture moving forward," admits Matua, after last weekend's selection camp in Rotorua.

He was assistant coach when the three-time champion Ferns lost their grip on the World Cup last year, but feels "excited" about the prospects of rebuilding towards the next event in 2017.

"There's a whole lot of new, fresh energy in there from girls who have really put their hands up for inclusion.

"Some have been in the game for a few years, were given a few 'work-ons' and have come back as better players. Others have come into their first training camp and impressed to the point where they couldn't be left out."

Sunday's trial game finished as a 28-28 draw between two evenly matched sides focused on defence, rather than attack.

"There were some defensive techniques that we wanted to employ, so we had a session where we explained exactly what we wanted and we were really pleased with how quickly the girls picked it up," says Matua.

"But there was also some beautiful individual skill and pure athletic ability shown in the tries scored."

Others to receive a call-up after standout performances at the NZ women's tournament in May/June include top try-scorer/Most Valuable Player Atawhai Tupaea and outstanding forward Teuila Fotu-Moala.

In fact, only two players selected were absent from the national event. Veteran Honey Hireme was on duty with the Black Ferns rugby union side and Kahurangi Peters was injured, but both were superb in the trial, where centre Hireme scored four tries.

Most of the squad are drawn from the champion Counties Manukau team and will train together once a week until their next camp on October 10/11.

The Kiwi Ferns squad is

Shontelle Dudley* (Counties Manukau), Maitua Feterika* (Counties Manukau), Sarina Fiso (Counties Manukau), Teuila Fotu Moala* (Counties Manukau), Honey Hireme (Counties Manukau), Iriana Huriwai-Sasulu* (Counties Manukau), Sita Kuruyabaki* (Mid Central), Chloe Leaupepe* (Auckland Invitational), Kelly Maipi (Counties Manukau), Laura Mariu (Counties Manukau), Lillietta Maumau* (Auckland Invitational), Krystal Murray* (Mid Central), Hilda Peters* (Counties Manukau), Kahurangi Peters (Counties Manukau), Rona Peters (Counties Manukau), Charlotte Scanlan (Akarana), Atawhai Tupaea* (Counties Manukau), Sharnita Woodman (Counties Manukau)

*denotes new cap

ends

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