The Blues and Chiefs have named strong squads for next month’s historic women’s Super Rugby match, with more than 20 Black Ferns set to feature in the encounter.
The two clubs announced the fixture last month in what they hope will be the first step towards a full-fledged women’s competition within the next few years but had yet to finalise their squads.
However, both clubs unveiled their teams today for the May 1 encounter at Eden Park, with Black Ferns captain Eloise Blackwell joined at the Blues by Auckland teammates Ruahei Demant, Charmaine McMenamin, Aldoa Itunu, Natahlia Moors, Aleisha Nelson, Saphire Abraham and Cristo Tofa.
Black Ferns hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate is one of four Northland players named in the Blues squad, which also features three North Harbour reps.
New Auckland Storm coach Willie Walker will be in charge of the Blues.
"It's great to be able to participate in this first women's game between Super Rugby teams," Walker said.
"The growth of women's rugby around the world has been remarkable, and while New Zealand has led the way in terms of development of players, we are now playing a bit of catch-up with the professional game."
The Chiefs squad boasts 12 Black Ferns, many of which come from the Waikato squad led by Chelsea Alley, who finished second in last year’s Farah Palmer Cup.
The Chiefs also named nine Counties Manukau players, seven Bay of Plenty representatives and three additions from Taranaki.
Chad Shepherd has been named coach for the Waikato women’s team.
"We are exceptionally excited for the opportunity to take on the Blues women at Eden Park in under a month's time. As a coaching group we are really pleased with the squad we have selected for this historic occasion," Shepherd said.
"We have an exciting balance of youth and experience; our Black Ferns players provide great leadership among an exciting group of young talented players who have broken onto the scene during last year's Farah Palmer Cup."
The match will kick off at 4.35pm, before the men's game begins at 7pm.
Blues squad: Saphire Abraham (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Shannon Leota (Auckland), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (Auckland), Lisa Molia (Auckland), Aleisha Nelson (Auckland), Cilia-Marie Po’e (Auckland), Maia Roos (Auckland), Cristo Tofa (Auckland), Tenaija Fletcher (North Harbour), Kate Williams (North Harbour), Krystal Murray (Northland), TK Ngata Aerengamate (Northland) Sylvia Brunt (Auckland), Moana Cook (Auckland), Ruahei Demant (Auckland), Princess Elliot (Auckland), Patricia Maleipo (Auckland), Natahlia Moors (Auckland), Daynah Nankivell (Auckland), Luisa Togotogorua (Auckland), Hayley Hutana (North Harbour), Tyler Nankivell (Northland) Stacey Tupe (Northland).
Chiefs squad: Angel Mulu (Bay of Plenty), Ariana Bayler (Waikato), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau), Chelsea Alley (Waikato), Chyna Hohepa (Waikato), Emily Kitson (Counties Manukau), Grace Houpapa-Barrett (Waikato), Harono Te Iringa (Counties Manukau), Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau), Iritana Hohiaia (Taranaki), JayJay Taylor (Bay of Plenty), Kelsey Teneti (Waikato), Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty), Kendra Reynolds (Bay of Plenty), Kennedy Simon (Waikato), Langi Veainu (Counties Manukau), Les Elder (Bay of Plenty), Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty), Mia Anderson (Waikato), Ngatokotoru Arakua (Counties Manukau), Paige Neilson (Taranaki), Pia Tapsell (Bay of Plenty), Rebecca Burch (Counties Manukau), Renee Holmes (Waikato), Shyanne Thompson (Counties Manukau), Stephanie Lualua (Waikato), Tachelle Gardiner (Taranaki), Tanya Kalounivale (Waikato), Waikohika Flesher (Counties Manukau)