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New Black Ferns Skipper Relishes English Challenge

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Fuseworks Media
New Black Ferns Skipper Relishes English Challenge

Wellington, Nov 12 NZPA - New Black Ferns captain Victoria Heighway is confident her team can overcome travel and a short buildup to beat England in their two-test women's rugby series starting on Sunday morning (NZT).

Auckland lock Heighway was named captain for their three-match tour in place of Melissa Ruscoe, who recently suffered concussion.

Heighway is no rooking, having played against England in the last two women's World Cup finals, in 2002 and 2006.

She said the Black Ferns had quickly set about forming combinations and gelling as a squad ahead of the first test match in Esher.

"It is frustrating definitely not to be together more, but that's what we get for being at the end of the world," she told website scrumqueens.com.

"It is difficult for us to settle on combinations when we have so few games together and rare matches at international level.

"However this year the NPC competition here has been much more competitive than in recent years and that has helped to drive a competitive edge."

Much of the preparation has been spent readying for a likely forward-based game from the hosts.

" England have always had an immense pack, they are very physical and strong and there is an emphasis on that element to the game here which I guess is slightly different to what we're used to back home," 26-test veteram Heighway said.

"We've got a strong running team and we like to play it quickly so throughout these games we will want to get stuck in but not get too tied into a contact game up front because we've got some great players out wide and we'd like to use that."

The Black Ferns squad of 28 includes six new faces as well as a number of other players returning to the squad after a period of absence.

The first test is followed by a midweek match against England A and the second test, at Twickenham immediately after the All Blacks test there against England.

New Zealand squad:

Kelly Brazier (Otago), Olivia Coady (Canterbury), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Barbara Chittock (Canterbury), Fiao'o Faamausili (Auckland), Victoria Grant (nee Blackledge) (Auckland), Victoria Heighway (Auckland), Carla Hohepa (Otago), Linda Itunu (Auckland), Emma Jensen (Auckland), Justine Lavea (Auckland), Ruth McKay (Manawatu), Rebecca Mahony (nee Hull) (Wellington), Beth Mallard (Otago), Huriana Manual (Auckland), Amanda Murphy (Canterbury), Karina Penetito (Auckland), Casey Robertson (Canterbury), Vita Robinson (Auckland), laire Rowat (Wellington), Amiria Rule (nee Marsh) (Canterbury), Stephanie TeOhaere-Fox (Canterbury), Anika Tiplady (Canterbury), Kimberly Smith (Canterbury), Renee Wickcliffe (Auckland).

Tour schedule:

14 Nov - England v New Zealand Esher RFC

17 Nov - England A v New Zealand Esher RFC

21 Nov - England v New Zealand Twickenham

 

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