10 Oct 2023

Kiwi Ferns name co-captains for Pacifc Championship

11:31 am on 10 October 2023

Kiwi Ferns Georgia Hale and Raecene McGregor Photo: New Zealand Rugby League

The Kiwi Ferns have opted for dual captaincy for the new era for the team which kicks off with the Pacific Championship.

Veterans Georgia Hale and Raecene McGregor will co-captain the Kiwi Ferns for the first time against the Jillaroos in Townsville on Saturday.

Head coach Ricky Henry said the experienced duo were the 'whole package' and could lead the team to success in the Pacific Championships and on to the next Women's Rugby League World Cup to be held in 2026.

"They've both got experience that can't be matched."

Henry said Hale embodied where the game was going, as a wāhine who had cemented herself as a respected leader, after moving from grassroots rugby league to the NRLW.

"People want to play with her or play for her, which says a lot and that's coaches and staff too. We saw that in the Titans," Henry said.

Hale, 28, led the Gold Coast Titans to second place in the NRLW and has become a strong figure-head in the game for both her versatility, playing as a lock and halfback, alongside her heart-felt leadership style.

"Georgia has been one of the best players in the NRLW through hardwork and persistence and that's where the respect comes from first. At the same time she really cares about those around her."

Hale was proud to continue the legacy of the Kiwi Ferns in her new role as she planned to empower others through their youth, wisdom or own personal culture during this Pacific Championships campaign, with 12 debutantes.

"The most important thing for me to do on this tour is grow the connection of our team, so we can bring our culture to life, which is what we pride ourselves on. It's our superpower, our inner strength," Hale said.

Apii Nicholls of New Zealand in action during the World Cup semi-final match against England.

Apii Nicholls of New Zealand in action during the match against England Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kiwi Fern McGregor, 25, is named as a leader off the back of a strong NRLW season with the St George Illawarra Dragons.

McGregor said holding the role of captain was something she had always wanted to do.

"Over the last two years I've felt ready to take on this position, knowing that I've come into myself a little more and gained experience through age too."

The five-eight attributed her leadership qualities to her mum, who she said instilled in her the notion to be respectful and kind to other people.

Henry said while Hale had witnessed the evolution of the game since her test debut in 2015, McGregor had helped build that.

"Raecene has got the kicks, the lovely pass, the game IQ and her leadership on the field is what the team trust. She's been a trail-blaser of the women's game," Henry said.

"Players look to her to come up with the big play or the right play on the field and she expects the best of people on and off the field."

Shanice Parker and Mya Hill-Moana have also been selected to support Hale and McGregor as part of a wider leadership team.