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World Cup-winning inside back Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali is back in black.
The 30-year-old Otago first five played the most recent of her 19 games for her country five years ago.
That was a particularly memorable test.
She helped set up a 41-32 win over England in the Rugby World Cup final with a deft cross-field kick.
Subritzky-Nafatali has been named in a 33-strong squad for the two-game series against Australia later this month.
She is joined in the team by another prominent returnee in Charmaine McMenamin. The loose forward was named New Zealand women’s player of the year in 2019.
Coach Wayne Smith said the pair’s return added experience and depth to the Black Ferns.
"Charmaine brings a huge work rate and a wise head, and it’s been her form in FPC that clinched her selection," he said.
"She has recovered from what could have been a career-ending injury, so we’re excited to have her in the team.
"Vic isn’t your ordinary player — she is mercurial. She’s returning after a long layoff and has done incredibly well to get to this point, so having her back in the mix is great."
Subritzky-Nafatali, who was not available to be interviewed this week, has returned to Otago this season after stints with Counties-Manukau and Northland.
She was named on the bench for the Otago Spirit’s match against Northland at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday but was a late scratching.
Subritzky-Nafatali is on bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday on charges of drink-driving and careless driving, following a crash in Brockville in December.
When she pleaded guilty in February, her lawyer Anne Stevens QC requested her criminal record not be marked, leaving the door open for an application for a discharge without conviction.
If it happens, it would be the second time in two years for Subritzky-Nafatali.
In October 2020, she was discharged without conviction after the Dunedin District Court heard she would otherwise struggle to make the World Cup squad.
Auckland inside back Ruahei Demant will share the captaincy with Waikato loose forward Kennedy Simon.
Simon was the 2021 Black Ferns player of the year. She missed the most recent series with a knee injury but will add plenty of firepower to the squad.
Smith said the standard of domestic play will set a strong platform for players coming into this series.
"The beauty of the FPC at the moment is there is huge attacking intent, players are in better condition and as a result we are seeing fast, open and exciting games.
"The trial we held early last month also added real depth to our game.
"It did end up a bit one-sided but regardless of the result there were players from both sides who showed up and we saw humility, honest endeavour and drive, which are attributes we are looking for."
Black Ferns squad
Luka Connor, Natalie Delamere. Georgia Ponsonby, Tanya Kalounivale, Pip Love, Krystal Murray, Amy Rule, Awhina Tangen, Santo Taumata, Chelsea Bremner, Joanah Ngan Woo, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Alana Bremner, Tafito Lafaele, Charmaine McMenamin, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Kendra Reynolds, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Kendra Cocksedge, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Sylvia Brunt, Ruahei Demant, Amy du Plessis, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Chelsea Semple, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Hazel Tubic, Renee Holmes, Ayesha Leti-I'iga, Tyla Nathan- Wong, Grace Steinmetz, Ruby Tui.
August 20: Christchurch, 7.05pm
August 27: Adelaide, 2.45pm