New Zealand Rugby has announced the contracted Black Ferns Sevens squad for 2018, as they strive for Commonwealth Games gold and victory at the Rugby World Cup Sevens later this year.
The 2018 squad of 23 contracted players for 2018, includes three new players among the 20 fully contracted players and three training contracts.
The contracted squad is (* indicates a new contracted player):
Shakira Baker – Waikato
Michaela Blyde - Bay of Plenty
Kelly Brazier – Bay of Plenty
Gayle Broughton – Bay of Plenty
Lyric Faleafaga – Wellington
Rhiarna Ferris – Manawatu*
Theresa Fitzpatrick – Auckland
Sarah Goss – Manawatu
Huia Harding – Waikato*
Jazmin Hotham – Waikato* (training contract)
Natahlia Moors - Auckland* (training contract)
Tyla Nathan-Wong – Auckland
Risi Pouri-Lane – Tasman*
Leanna Ryan - Waikato* (training contract)
Alena Saili - Southland
Shiray Tane – Waikato
Terina Te Tamaki – Waikato
Ruby Tui – Bay of Plenty
Stacey Waaka – Waikato
Kat Whata-Simpkins – Wellington
Niall Williams – Auckland
Tenika Willison – Waikato
Portia Woodman – Counties Manukau
Waikato’s Shiray Tane returns after last playing for the Black Ferns Sevens in 2016; Lyric Faleafaga graduates from a training to full contract, while six new players have all progressed through the New Zealand Sevens Development programme.
Black Ferns Sevens Coach Allan Bunting said the growth in the women’s game has unearthed talented athletes and that he is looking forward to working with the new players.
“We have been keeping a close eye on the development group for quite a while and watched how they performed at Nationals last month.
“The players we have brought in have a lot of potential and the ability to learn and grow quickly. They will add enthusiasm to our group and have the character and work ethic that we are after,” said Bunting.
Rhiarna Ferris, Huia Harding and Risi Pouri-Lane are all new to the Black Ferns Sevens team, while Jazmin Hotham, Natahlia Moors and Leanna Ryan will join the squad on training contracts.
“The idea of training contacts is to support these younger players to migrate into the full squad. There is a big gap between national and international level, so we are looking to give them support to get physically ready and grow their technical skill set.”
Bunting said the aim is to not only grow his squad but work closely with the development programme as well.
“The plan this year is to give all of our contracted players experience on the field at some stage. Commonwealth Games and World Cup will be our top players, but we want to inject others throughout the year and have 20 players that are capable of competing for the playing 12 every tournament.
“Beyond that we really want to grow the depth, we want to see the development squad players challenging for contracts and have a good group of 30 players pushing for spots.”
The squad is now preparing for April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, before three World Sevens Series tournament and the Rugby World Cup Sevens round out the season.
Pouri-Lane finished Year 13 at Motueka High School last year and joins the Black Ferns Sevens full time in 2018. “Risi has shown a real dedication to Sevens over the past few years and has been a part of the development squad. She comes from a judo background and you can see that, she is good in contact. Risi is keen to learn and brings a well-rounded skill set.