Resilient Black Ferns Captain Elder Leads By Example

For Les Elder, being named Black Ferns captain is an honor, but she’s just happy she’s still playing.

Leading into the upcoming Women’s Super Series in San Diego, CA, New Zealand Women's National Team head coach Glenn Moore has named Elder the team captain, a responsibility she takes very seriously.

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“It’s a massive honor and a huge privilege, and I’m really excited to step into the role and continue what our previous leaders and current players have already established,” said Elder, who has had to battle back from injury to earn the captaincy. 

Given the prestige of being Black Ferns captain, Elder still had to mull it over.

“Glenn actually mentioned it to me at the end of last year and then I had some time to go in and think about it, and process it with my family, and talk to my support network about it," she explained. "And it just went from there.”

Elder’s journey to being captain hasn’t been without adversity. In 2016 she suffered what many feared might have been a career-ending leg injury, but with the encouragement of those close to her, she persevered. 

“When I broke my leg, I thought that was my career; I thought it was over," she said. "It just took a call from Glenn at that time to sort of tell me it wasn’t over, and to just get back on the wagon.”

The hard-nosed flanker wants to be the same kind of role model for incoming players as the ones she looked up to when she first pulled on a black jersey—players like Fiao'o Fa'amausili.

“I guess with Fi, she’s always just led with her actions, and it’s something that just always inspired me," said Elder. "I came into the team and her and a few of the other leaders just really wrapped their arms around us and made us feel comfortable. And for me, first and foremost, it’s going to be about doing the exact same thing for the new caps we’ve got coming through.”

When New Zealand opens the Super Series on June 28 against Canada, Elder will be grateful to lead her team out, but it's likely she's just as grateful to be there at all.

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