Eight Manawatu players to battle for places in the Black Ferns in trial match
Eight Manawatu players will be among a group of 60 battling for a place in the Black Ferns in a trial match in Palmerston North on Friday as the countdown to the World Cup begins.
A 30-player squad will be named on Saturday for their upcoming quad series with the players getting a final chance to impress the coaches - Glenn Moore and Manawatu-based Wesley Clarke - in Friday's match, which kicks off at 2pm at the Sport and Rugby Institute.
Star fullback Selica Winiata (Kia Toa) leads the Manawatu contingent.
The try-scoring superstar was named New Zealand Rugby's women's player of the year in 2016 after scoring nine tries in five tests for the Black Ferns last year.
She has scored 130 points in 24 matches for the Black Ferns since debuting in 2008.
Janna Vaughan (Varsity) will be looking to add to her six matches with the team.
Her pace and deceptive strength means she is battling for a spot in the midfield or the wing.
New Zealand Sevens captain Sarah Goss (FOB-Oroua) impressed on her 15s Black Ferns debut last year. She played two tests at flanker against Australia.
Four-code international Kristina Sue (FOB-Oroua) also made her Black Ferns debut last year.
The halfback has also represented New Zealand at touch, league and sevens.
New Zealand Sevens player Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga (Kia Toa) is a good chance to crack squad at hooker.
Her dynamic running in the abbreviated form of the game has impressed, but she has yet to get on the field for the Black Ferns.
Another Manawatu player to impress in sevens, Crystal Mayes (Kia Toa), is also hunting for her debut.
Mayes was named as a development player in the New Zealand Sevens squad earlier this year and will be contesting an outside back spot.
Netball convert Rhiarna Ferris (FOB-Oroua) is competing with her in that position.
Ferris has great height and athleticism and is in just her second season in the sport.
Cyclones captain Nicole Dickins (FOB-Oroua) is the other Manawatu player involved.
The lock-loose forward has a high work-rate which she hopes will help elevate her to the national team. Dickins' sister is Black Stick Stephanie Dickins.
The Black Ferns take on Canada, England and Australia in New Zealand in June as their final warm-up to the World Cup in Ireland in August.
New Zealand will be looking for revenge at the World Cup after being upset by Ireland in pool stages in 2014, which meant they missed the semifinals and had to settle for fifth.
That was the last time they have lost a test.
A number of regular New Zealand Sevens players have been included in Friday's trial match.
If they make the team, they are likely to miss the final two stops on the Sevens World Series.