There could be Black Ferns debuts in the HSBC World Series this weekend for 18-year-old Dhys Faleafaga and Rhiarna Ferris as series leaders New Zealand look to break their own record for consecutive victories.
Assistant coach for the Black Ferns Cory Sweeney said he was proud of the players ahead of their world series bow.
“It is two very different stories,” he told allblacks.com. “Rhiarna has been working away for almost 18 months and has come back from injury for this opportunity while on the other hand, Dhys is straight out of school, she has only recently come into our team and has slotted in nicely. It is going to be exciting for both of them.”
The debuts come after the Black Ferns have been plagued with a host of injuries to experienced players, and therefore they will be missing for the event held in Kitakyushu this weekend.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 19, 2019
Sweeney continued: “Injury provides opportunity. We are confident with the group of players we have in Japan, in that they can keep performing at a high level.
“There is a lot of unknowns in terms of new players; they need to go express themselves, and they might take a few people by surprise. It’s an exciting weekend for the Black Ferns Sevens and the future of this team.”
The assistant coach has been pleased with the increased quality in the women’s game this season, despite the Black Ferns being the runaway leaders and looking for a four consecutive HSBC World Series win.
He said: “There is no such thing as an easy day one. We have Japan first up who will be tough, we haven’t played Russia for a while but they are always challenging, and then France is another strong team.”
New Zealand face Japan, Russia and France in their pool games, needing two victories to eclipse their own record of 36 straight victories, set between April 2014 and May 2015. The Black Ferns are leading the standings with three wins from three tournaments.
Black Ferns Full Squad:
Ruby Tui, Shakira Baker, Stacey Waaka, Niall Williams, Sarah Hirini (captain), Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Dhys Faleafaga, Tenika Willison, Rhiarna Ferris, Terina Te Tamaki, Alena Saili
Main photo credit: allblacks.com