New cap Pia Tapsell and coach Glenn Moore talk about the Black Ferns' upcoming tournament (video: Black Ferns)
The Black Ferns side to play Canada tomorrow morning has been named, and includes three debutants.
One player who will be raring to go is Pia Tapsell (Te Arawa and Ngati Whakauae), who will play her first game in the black jersey at number eight. The North Harbour 20-year-old, whose whanau is from Maketu, says that the experience has been ‘pretty crazy’.
“To be named first up and straight into it is pretty awesome. Like quite surreal really…I don’t really know how to describe the feeling. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to represent my family and everyone out there.” she said in an interview at the team’s training facility in San Diego.
“I think for me, the haka’s going to be one of the most emotional moments. I know for me my nana and koro are really proud of me, they ring me every day and check up. To represent my Maori side and my last name is going to be a big moment for me.”
The team, playing its first test under Les Elder’s captaincy, knows full well the challenge ahead.
“Everyone’s really excited. We’ve had a lot of camps from February through to now and it gets to the point where you just want to get out there and start playing.” Coach Glenn Moore told us before the team departed New Zealand.
It’s been a big 12 months for Moore and his team, as they now mark a year since the Black Ferns were centrally contracted by NZ Rugby. Moore says that it has enabled better talent identification, among other things.
“We’ve managed to develop a lot of things…out in the provincial unions with high performance programmes etc. It’s really been about getting our players into the best condition we can be in, and increase our game understanding.”
The match against Canada is the first in the inaugural Women's Super Series, which also involves England, the USA and Canada.
Black Ferns team to play Canada, 11am Saturday (denotes test caps):
1. Toka Natua (16)
2. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (24)
3. Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (29)
4. Eloise Blackwell (37)
5. Charmaine Smith (21)
6. Charmaine McMenamin (19)
7. Les Elder (Captain, 13)
8. Pia Tapsell*
9. Kendra Cocksedge (Vice captain, 47)
10. Ruahei Demant (5)
11. Ayesha Leti-I'iga (3)
12. Chelsea Alley (18)
13. Carla Hohepa (19)
14. Renee Wickliffe (35)
15. Selica Winiata (Vice captain, 36)
16. Luka Connor*
17. Phillipa Love (7)
18. Leilani Perese (5) / Olivia Ward-Duin*
19. Karli Faneva*
20. Marcelle Parkes (2)
21. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu*
22. Krysten Cottrell (5)
23. Alena Saili (2)
* test debut