Rugby World Cup: Sevens stars start as Black Ferns name side to face Japan in final pre-tournament test

Coach Wayne Smith has named a strong 23 for the Black Ferns' final test before this year's Rugby World Cup, hosting Japan at Eden Park on Saturday.

Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini comes into the starting XV for her first test of the year, after linking up with the New Zealand 15s outfit for the World Cup.

The starting side has a strong sevens flavour to it, as Ruby Tui and Portia Woodman start on the wings, with Theresa Fitzpatrick in midfield.

"They are world class athletes; hugely professional in terms of their preparation," Smith said. 

"They came in knowing all the plays so I'm confident they've done the homework and they deserve an opportunity."

Chelsea Bremner returns to the second row to partner Joanah Ngan Woo, seeing Maiakawanakaulani Roos drop to the bench, while Liana Mikaele-Tu'u comes into the loose forward trio at No.6 in place of the injured Alanah Bremner.

Charmaine McMenamin is afforded a start at No.8, with regular co-captain Kennedy Simon unavailable through injury.

Fitzpatrick and Amy du Plessis combine in midfield, while Renee Holmes takes over at fullback after Grace Steinmetz started against Australia in Adelaide.

On the bench, Georgia Ponsonby, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu and Santo Taumata cover the front row, as Kendra Reynolds makes the reserves with Hirini starting.

Black Ferns: 1-Pip Love, 2-Luka Connor, 3-Amy Rule, 4-Joanah Ngan Woo, 5-Chelsea Bremner, 6-Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, 7-Sarah Hirini, 8-Charmaine McMenamin, 9-Kendra Cocksedge, 10-Ruahei Demant (c), 11-Ruby Tui, 12-Theresa Fitzpatrick, 13-Amy du Plessis, 14-Portia Woodman, 15-Renee Holmes

Reserves: 16-Georgia Ponsonby, 17-Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, 18-Santo Taumata, 19-Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 20-Kendra Reynolds, 21-Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, 22-Stacey Fluhler, 23-Hazel Tubic

Join Newshub for live updates of the Black Ferns v Japan from 4:30pm Saturday