Watch: Black Ferns skipper Fiao'o Fa'amusili explains her retirement U-turn - 'I'm still passionate about the game'

Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Fa'amusili has explained her decision to postpone her playing retirement, as New Zealand's first ever centrally contracted female players were revealed in Auckland today.

Having led the Black Ferns to a fifth Women's World Cup in Ireland last year, Fa'amusili, 37, hung up her boots having spent most of her adult life playing for New Zealand.

However, at today's announcement, the inspirational captain revealed she will come out of retirement, one of 28 players now contracted to New Zealand Rugby.

"I was asked to come and help grow the girls, and offer my knowledge and skills," she told 1 NEWS.

"I'm still passionate about the game, I've been training through summer, the body's feeling good, so I'm doing what I still love which is rugby.

"I'm back to earn the right to wear that black jersey."

Fa'amusili also revealed her decision process behind her sudden U-turn.

"It (the decision) was made, probably, at the beginning of the year, probably around February-March."

"I went and had a game of sevens in Samoa, and my body was still in good nick.

"The love of the game was still there, so I'm here to help grow and develop these girls into the new era that we're heading towards."

The World Cup winning leader isn't hanging up her boots as women's rugby enters a new era. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: The historic moment NZ's first contracted women pro rugby players are announced

In a historic move for rugby in New Zealand, the first list of professionally contracted women's players have been announced, recognition for the Black Ferns' success over numerous years.

Following the success of the team at last year's Women's World Cup, calls grew louder for pay equality between the men's and women's game, allowing for the Black Ferns to become fully professional as athletes - and New Zealand Rugby listened.

A total of 28 players have been contracted, including 17 from last year's victorious World Cup campaign, while there is a welcome return for winning captain Fiao'o Faamausili, who has postponed her retirement.

A further 20 players will be identified to make up a wider training squad.

Coach Glenn Moore spoke about his delight in seeing the rewards for his squad.

"Among this squad are a number of very talented young players who have been working hard in their clubs and Provincial Unions.

"Our talent identification programme has helped us develop depth in our wider player pool and the Black Ferns performance at the World Cup has given players something to aspire to."

NZR Head of Women's Rugby Cate Sexton echoed the sentiments, saying  it reflected the importance of the game in New Zealand.

"These contracted players will receive a guaranteed retainer to train, assembly fees when they come together for Black Ferns camps and the medical and technical services they need as elite athletes.

"It's an exciting time for women's rugby and I'm very proud we've taken the step forward to contract our female 15s players along with our sevens squad."

Contracted players will assemble 50 days per year, allowing for regular Black Ferns training camps.

Contracted Black Ferns:

Backs: Chelsea Alley, Ariana Bayler, Grace Brooker, Kendra Cocksedge, Krysten Cottrell, Ruahei Demant, Kilistina Moata'ane, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Kristina Sue, Renee Wickliffe, Selica Winiata.

Forwards: Eloise Blackwell, Les Elder, Fiao'o Faamausili, Dhys Faleafaga, Harono Iringa, Aldora Itunu, Linda Itunu, Pip Love, Charmaine McMenamin, Toka Natua, Joanah Ngan Woo,
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Aleisha Nelson, Marcelle Parkes, Leilani Perese, Aroha Savage, Charmaine Smith.

NZR chairman Brent Impey revealed the contracted group of Black Ferns today. Source: 1 NEWS



Chiefs prop Karl Tu'inukuafe called into All Blacks squad

Chiefs prop Karl Tu'inukuafe has been called into the All Blacks squad, following injury to fellow front rower, Tim Perry.

Tu'inukuafe, 25, will link up with the squad after Perry suffered a hamstring strain at the All Blacks' training in Auckland yesterday, with the Chiefs and North Harbour man called in to replace him ahead of next month's series with France.

Tu'inukuafe attended Auckland's Wesley College, alongside club and country teammate Nepo Laulala.

Initially with the Chiefs as an injury replacement, Karl Tu'inukuafe made his Super Rugby debut in round five this year, with his form catching the eye of coach Steve Hansen.

The All Blacks will assemble again in Christchurch on Sunday, before they go into camp the following week in preparation for the first Test against France on June 9 in Auckland.


Karl Tu’Inukuafe of the Chiefs drives forward
Karl Tu’Inukuafe of the Chiefs drives forward Source: Photosport