Portia Woodman to make Black Ferns debut
Portia Woodman's rapid rise in women's rugby has continued with her inclusion in the Black Ferns team to play England in the first Test at Auckland on Saturday.
Woodman, who starred for champions New Zealand at the sevens rugby World Cup in Moscow last month, will play the first full 15-a-side game of her life when she makes her debut on the right wing at Eden Park.
The speedy 21-year-old - daughter of former All Black Kawhena Woodman - switched from representative netball to sevens less than a year ago.
She scored the most tries in the inaugural women's world series and then again at the World Cup.
Two other uncapped players have been named on the reserve bench - Auckland loose forward Charmaine McMenamin and Waikato first five-eighth Chelsea Alley.
Coach Brian Evans has otherwise named an experienced team boasting 210 caps in his starting XV for the first of three Tests.
"It was very hard to go past those players who we know are hard grafters, and seasoned campaigners," Evans said.
"I am also excited that the sevens girls have added a real intensity and pace to our backline."
Former skipper Victoria Grant returns from an injury break that ruled her out of rugby for a year to play at fullback but hooker Fiao'o Faamausili retains the captaincy.
A New Zealand side led by Grant beat England by three points in the 2010 World Cup final but since then the Black Ferns have lost five and drawn one of their clashes. All of those matches have been in England, including a three-Test whitewash seven months ago.
Injury and unavailability have forced England to field a weakened squad for the series, which they are using as a buildup for next year's World Cup in France.
Saturday's Test, which is a curtain-raiser to the Blues versus Chiefs Super Rugby match, will be the 1000th women's Test since the first 30 years ago.
The remaining Tests are in Hamilton on Tuesday and Pukekohe on Saturday next week.
New Zealand: Victoria Grant, Portia Woodman, Claire Richardson, Amiria Rule, Renee Wickliffe, Kelly Brazier, Kendra Cocksedge, Casey Robertson, Justine Lavea, Aroha Savage, Vita Dryden, Rawinia Everitt, Melodie Bosman, Fiao'o Faamausili, Ruth McKay. Reserves: Karina Stowers, Kathleen Wilton, Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox, Jackie Patea, Charmaine McMenamin, Emma Jensen, Chelsea Alley, Selica Winiata.
source: newshub archive