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Wednesday 19 October 2011 | Published in Regional


Titikaveka born and raised all round athlete Kelani Poomai Matapo is one of eight new caps in the champion Black Fern womens rugby team.

Matapo is the youngest child and only daughter of Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand Tiki Matapo and his wife Mii.

And just like all four of her strong running rugby playing brothers Matapo is a force to be reckoned with on the rugby field and netball court.

The New Zealand based athlete was a squad member of the national netball team that competed at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and is one of four players from provincial championship winners Auckland selected in the Black Ferns, the four-time womens rugby World Cup champions.

She returns home each year with a womens rugby team for the annual International Sevens in Heaven tournament but due to her selection in the New Zealand squad Matapo could be missing from this years local tournament.

The Ferns will tour England next month and play three test matches against World Cup runner-ups England with the first game on November 26 to be played at Twickenham.

Aucklands Victoria Grant will captain the side after the retirement of Melissa Ruscoe.

Grant, who captained the Black Ferns once last year, has been in the side since 2006 and has 14 caps.

The Black Ferns have several new caps including four from national provincial championship winners Auckland - Eloise Blackwell, Rawinia Everitt, Keilani Matapo and Hazel Tubic, and three from NPC runners-up Wellington - Muteremoana Aiatu, Shakira Baker and Katarina Whata.

Lydia Crossman from Hawkes Bay is also a newcomer to the squad and Canterburys Amanda Murphy is playing for the team for the first time since 2009.

Kathleen Wilton, a 2007 Black Fern, has been included after the Otago-based prop returned from playing overseas.