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Aldora Itunu set for Black Ferns return

Aldora Itunu set for Black Ferns return

All BlacksMay 18, 2024

The Black Ferns coaching group have named their match-day twenty-three, featuring the return of powerful prop Aldora Itunu, in their second Test of the Pacific Four Series at Apollo Stadium in Christchurch on Sunday 19 May, kick-off at 4.35pm.

Black Ferns team to play Canada is (Test caps in brackets);
1. Chryss Viliko (3)     
2. Georgia Ponsonby (21)     
3. Tanya Kalounivale (12)     
4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (22)     
5. Maama Mo'onia Vaipulu (1)
6. Layla Sae (4)     
7. Kennedy Simon (co-captain) (21)     
8. Liana Mikaele-Tu'u (19)
9. Maia Joseph (1)
10. Ruahei Demant (co-captain) (34)
11. Katelyn Vahaakolo (7)     
12. Logo-i-Pulotu Lemapu-Atai'i (Sylvia) Brunt (14)     
13. Amy du Plessis (15)     
14. Ruby Tui (14)     
15. Mererangi Paul (6)
16. Luka Connor (21)     
17. Amy Rule (20)
18. Aldora Itunu (24)    
19. Charmaine Smith (30)    
20. Kaipo Olsen-Baker (3)     
21. Iritana Hohaia (7)     
22. Hannah King (1)    
23. Patrica Maliepo (8)    

Unavailable due to injury: Kate Henwood

Are you game day ready?🏉

Get your tickets at https://t.co/TILRKxkfLt and we'll see you there!#LikeABlackFern | #Pac4 pic.twitter.com/HlSlti6TDC

— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) May 16, 2024

Loosehead prop Chryss Viliko will make her first start for the Black Ferns this weekend, replacing the injured Kate Henwood in the only change to the starting XV. This sees versatile prop Aldora Itunu is set to make her Black Ferns Test return this weekend off the bench donning the black jersey for the first time since 2021, the now mother of one will take the field in the black jersey.

 Black Ferns Director of Rugby Allan Bunting congratulated Itunu on her selection.

“Aldora’s perseverance, determination and physical presence has been evident since returning to our environment. She is a special human and has a lot to give this jersey both on and off the field. We know the impact she will make and look forward to her taking the field once again in the Black Ferns jersey.”

Relentless loose forward Liana Mikaele-Tu’u is in-line to play her 20th Test in the Black Ferns jersey, she will shift to start at No.8, with Layla Sae named at blindside, in the only other change in the playing 23. 

Bunting congratulated Mikaele-Tu’u on her impending milestone.

“It will be a special moment for Liana and her aiga. She is a great contributor to this jersey, her passion and love for this team and where we are going if evident in all she does. We know she is ambitious and has plenty more to achieve and we look forward to seeing her influence this weekend.”

This will be the 18th Test between the Black Ferns and Canada, having first met in 1991 at the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff. The Black Ferns have won all 17 Tests.

Bunting said the team were keen to build on their performance against the USA.

“Our ladies delivered some special moments last weekend against USA. We were able to see quite a bit of growth in what we have been working through. We want to continue to build on this again this weekend. Canada presents a quality challenge we need on our journey into world cup. As a coaching group we want to continue to see growth in certain areas of our game.

Last time we faced Canada 💪

The countdown to kick-off is on so grab your tickets now so you can be there to witness all the action live! 👉 https://t.co/MaTqUxw8PR#LikeABlackFern pic.twitter.com/fawYKpN0JZ

— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) May 5, 2024

Key Facts: 

  • This will be the 18th Test between the Black Ferns and Canada.
  • The Black Ferns last played Canada was in Ottawa, Canada in 2023, the Black Ferns won 52 – 21.
  • Aldora Itunu returns to the Black Ferns for her first Test since 2021.
  • Liana Mikaele-Tu’u is in-line to play her 20th Test for the Black Ferns.
  • The Black Ferns can claim the Pacific Four title and secure their WXV1 qualification if a few scenarios go their way this weekend. They will have to secure a bonus point win, deny Canada a bonus point along with Australia not picking up a bonus point win.

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