11 Oct 2011

Black Ferns name eight new caps

2:58 pm on 11 October 2011

The four-time Women's Rugby World Cup champions New Zealand have named eight new caps and a new head coach for next month's tour of England.

The team will play three Tests against world cup runners-up England with the first match on November the 26th at Twickenham.

Auckland's Victoria Grant will captain the side for the series after the retirement of former captain Melissa Ruscoe.

The Black Ferns new caps include four from Provincial Champions Auckland, Eloise Blackwell, Rawinia Everitt, Kalani Matapo and Hazel Tubic, and three from runners-up Wellington, Muteremoana Aiatu, Shakira Baker and Katarina Whata.

Lydia Crossman from Hawke's Bay is also a newcomer to the squad, while Canterbury's Amanda Murphy is playing for the team for the first time since 2009.

Auckland dominates the 26-woman squad with 14 members, while 2007 Black Fern, Kathleen Wilton, has been included after the Otago-based prop returned from playing overseas.

Several members of last year's squad were unavailable for selection this year including 2010 IRB Women's Personality of the Year Carla Hohepa, Victoria Heighway, Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox and Halie Hurring who're all overseas, while Monalisa Codling's retired.

Joan Sione and Linda Itunu are injured while Huriana Manuel and Ruth McKay made themselves unavailable.

Stepping up from the assistant role to take Head Coach duties, Grant Hansen says he's excited about the new crop of players and the opportunities that the tour presents for them.

The team assembles in Auckland on November the 17th for a three-day camp before departing for London on 20 November.