Head coach Ricky Henry has named four Kiwi Fern debutantes to line up against Tonga this Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium (3:10 pm kick-off) NZT.
Amy Turner (Broncos) and Page McGregor (Dragons) will debut in the centres, while Bronco powerhouse Roxy Murdoch gets her call up to the Ferns’ second-row.
2022 NZRL Sky Sport Women’s Premiership MVP Laishon Albert-Jones will debut in the halves alongside Kiwi Fern veteran and Roosters Premiership winner Raecene McGregor.
Manurewa Marlin junior Krystal Rota earns her second Test captaincy for the Kiwi Ferns, while Titan’s lock Georgia Hale joins Raecene as vice-captain forming a strong leadership spine for the relatively young team.
Māori All-Stars and Premiership-winning Rooster Mya Hill-Moana earns her second Test appearance as prop alongside newly signed Bronco and front-row standout Annetta Nu’uausala.
Madison Bartlett is named on the wing following her top try scoring efforts for St. George Illawarra this season, and Kiwi Fern veteran and newly signed Bronco hooker Nita Maynard re-claims her place in the squad after missing the 2020 Test due to being based in Australia.
“We have exciting new talent who all deserve this opportunity, and they’re gelling well with our leadership spine and more experienced names,” said Head Coach Ricky Henry.
“It’s extremely special to see Kiwi Ferns debut for their country as we all know what a representative honour means to any player, especially at the highest level.
“After a two-year hiatus, everyone is excited to get back out there in front of whānau and friends against a tough Tonga team who will be out for victory. I’m looking forward to seeing the Ferns give it their all Saturday.”
Kiwi Ferns squad:
Amy Turner, Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly, Charlotte Scanlan, Christyl Stowers, Georgia Hale, Hailee-Jay Maunsell, Kararaina Wira-Kohu, Karli Hansen, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Krystal Rota, Laishon Albert-Jones, Madison Bartlett, Mya Hill-Moana, Ngatokotoru Arakua, Nita Maynard, Page, McGregor, Raecene McGregor, Roxy Murdoch.
Mate Ma’a Tonga squad:
Laikha Clarke (Gold Coast Titans), Tegan Dymock (St George Illawarra Dragons), Keisharn Hala (Brisbane Tigers), Elenoa Havea, Haylee Hifo (Mounties), Kalosipani Hopoate (Sydney Roosters), Bridget Hoy (Tweed Seagulls), Mary Latu, Amelia Mafi, Seli Mailangi (Parramatta Eels), Shannon Muru (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Kimberly Nikua (St Marys), Monica Samita, Natasha Penitani (Cronulla Sharks), China Polata (Brisbane Broncos), Pier Pritchard (North Sydney Bears), Erana Reti (St George Dragons), Luisa Sekona (West Brisbane Panthers), Lavinia Tauhalaliku, Ana Taumalolo.