Ruby Tui to sit out Black Ferns test with Australia, Ruahei Demant on the bench

Ruby Tui (Photo: Supplied / Instagram)

Pacific Four Series: Black Ferns v Australia; Where: North Harbour Stadium, Auckland; When: Saturday, 2:05pm; Coverage: Live on Sky Sport 1 and live updates on Stuff.

The Black Ferns have demoted key stars Ruahei Demant and Ruby Tui for Saturday’s test against Australia after last weekend’s shock defeat to Canada.

Co-captain and leading playmaker Demant will be on the bench when the Black Ferns defend the O’Reilly Cup against the Wallaroos in Albany, with six changes made to their starting line-up.

Demant has been replaced by rookie No 10 Hannah King, who will play her only second test, with coach Allan Bunting wanting to give more fringe players an opportunity to prove themselves in the test arena.

Tui will sit out their final match of the Pacific Four Series and Mererangi Paul takes her place on the right wing. Renee Holmes returns at fullback after recovering from a broken hand and Grace Steinmetz is their reserve outside back.

Alana Bremner is another experienced forward coming back into the side at lock after not featuring in last Sunday’s 22-19 loss to Canada in Christchurch, replacing Maama Mo’onia Vaipulu.

Ruby Tui (Photo: Supplied / Instagram)

It was one of their most embarrassing defeats as the Black Ferns, the reigning world champions and a fully fledged professional outfit, lost to a part-time Canadian team for the first time in their history.

Canada also won the Pacific Four Series in recording a famous victory in their 18th test against the Black Ferns.

They are backing up from that upset with many of their core players starting at North Harbour Stadium, including co-captain Kennedy Simon, Maiakawanakaulani Roos and Liana Mikaele-Tu’u. Katelyn Vahaakolo is retained on the left wing, as well as the midfield duo of Sylvia Brunt and Amy du Plessis.

Bunting’s side thrashed the United States 57-5 in the opening round of the series in Hamilton and are expected to have less trouble defeating an Australian team they have never lost to in 25 meetings.

Ruahei Demant (Left) (Photo: Supplied / Instagram)

The Wallaroos were beaten at home by the United States (32-25) and Canada (33-14) in their opening matches.

The Black Ferns are hosting Australia ahead of their next meeting in Brisbane in July.

Iritana Hohaia has also been promoted to start at halfback ahead of Maia Joseph and another change is prop Marcelle Parkes, who comes on to the bench after last playing a test as a loose forward in 2019.

Tanya Kalounivale drops out of the 23 and Amy Rule replaces her as the starting tighthead. Kaipo Olsen-Baker starts in the loose forward trio ahead of Layla Sae.

Black Ferns: Renee Holmes, Mererangi Paul, Amy du Plessis, Sylvia Brunt, Katelyn Vahaakolo, Hannah King, Iritana Hohaia, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Kennedy Simon (co-capt), Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Alana Bremner, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Amy Rule, Georgia Ponsonby, Chryss Viliko. Reserves: Luka Connor, Marcelle Parkes, Aldora Itunu, Charmaine Smith, Layla Sae, Maia Joseph, Ruahei Demant (co-capt), Grace Steinmetz.

Australia: Caitlyn Halse, Maya Stewart, Georgina Friedrichs, Cecilia Smith, Desiree Miller, Arabella McKenzie, Samantha Wood, Piper Duck, Leilani Nathan, Siokapesi Palu, Atasi Lafai, Michaela Leonard (capt), Eva Karpani, Tania Naden, Brianna Hoy. Reserves: Hera-Barb Malcolm Heke, Sally Fuesaina, Bridie O’Gorman, Kaitlan Leaney, Tabua Tuinakauvadra, Layne Morgan, Trilleen Pomare, Faitala Moleka.

- Stuff