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Black Ferns looking to bounce back in French finale

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Black Ferns team to play their last Test of the 2021 calendar, against France at Stade Pierre-Fabre in Castres this Saturday (kick off 3pm), has been named.

1. Philipa Love (14)

2. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (31)

3. Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (38)

4. Eloise Blackwell (45)

5. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (2)

6. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (3)

7. Les Elder - captain (21)

8. Kennedy Simon (7)

9. Kendra Cocksedge (56)

10. Kelly Brazier (41)

11. Portia Woodman (18)

12. Chelsea Alley (25)

13. Carla Hohepa (27)

14. Stacey Fluhler (19)

15. Cheyelle Robins-Reti (2)

16. Georgia Ponsonby (1)

17. Aldora Itunu (23)

18. Amy Rule (2)

19. Alana Bremner (2)

20. Kendra Reynolds - debut

21. Ariana Bayler (3)

22. Ruahei Demant (14)

23. Renee Wickliffe (42)

Coach Glenn Moore has made a number of changes to the match-day 23, settling on an experienced line up for the closing Test of the tour.

Kennedy Simon (pictured) has been rewarded for dominant form off the bench with her first start in the Black Ferns jersey, replacing Dhys Faleafaga who suffered a head knock last weekend. Bay of Plenty loose forward Kendra Reynolds comes onto the bench and is in line for her first international cap.

Veteran Kelly Brazier moves into first five-eighths and will combine with the experience of Chelsea Alley and Carla Hohepa in the midfield.

Halfback Kendra Cocksedge runs out for her 57th Black Ferns Test, equaling the record held by Fiao’o Faamausili as most capped player in the team’s history.

Waikato enforcer, Kennedy Simon, gets her first start after making her Black Ferns debut off the bench in 2019. In 2020 Simon was acknowledged by her peers as the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Year for Black Ferns and the Farah Palmer Cup.

"Kennedy has been incredibly dynamic off the bench and comes in off a really great Farah Palmer Cup. She is fantastic - a good ball player, she has pace and is physically very strong, last weekend she made some great hits so she deserves this start," said Moore.

Bay of Plenty’s Kendra Reynolds played for the Black Ferns in their domestic series against the Barbarians in 2020, but Saturday is set to be her international debut.

"Kendra has impressed us every time she has been in a camp - we are really pleased with the progress she has shown. She’s a class act and will bring something a bit different when she gets on, said Moore.

With experienced players such as Chelsea Alley, Carla Hohepa and Renee Wickliffe in the fold, Moore said the coaching group is interested in seeing how the different combinations come together.

"A number of these players have played significant amount of rugby at this level and they're fresh - they’ve played well off the bench so we’re looking forward to their opportunity to start and to test some combinations.

"We think our physicality has been improving week on week, we have a couple of players that have been desperate to have a crack and they get that this weekend.

"If we look at last weekend, we know we need to be more accurate with our kicking game and have a good kick-chase. On top of that we need to improve our skill execution - we lost the ball at critical moments last weekend and you can’t afford to do that at this level," said Moore.

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