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Woodman still getting used to Test demands

Sean Willis

    01 Aug 2017     Sean Willis

Woodman told worldrugby.org that while she had made her mark in the sevens game, where she had won a rugby sevens World Cup medal and was named World Women's Sevens Player of the Year in 2015, and had scored nine tries in 11 Tests, the Test game was harder to cope with.

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Woodman, who made her Test debut in 2013 after changing from netball in 2012 said, "I am definitely more confident on the sevens field and I have found switching to 15s a lot harder.

"It's a very mental game, more strategic.

"You get to express yourselves a lot more in sevens because there are less people on the pitch.

"But I am loving the challenge of 15s in manipulating and creating those spaces," she said.

"I still get a little lost and ask the players around me questions but thankfully they tolerate my uselessness," she said.

Woodman, who made the switch to rugby at the same time as teammate Kayla McAlister, said netball had been a help for her.

"I definitely got my footwork from netball – either trying to lose someone or chase someone down.

"A netball court is 30 metres long, and in my position, you're only allowed to run over two-thirds of the court so you have to be fast and agile and have incredible footwork plus the power to jump – all skills that can be transferred into rugby," she said.
With her experience of winning silver in sevens at the Rio de Janiero Olympic Games, Woodman said there was little difference in expectations in New Zealand for the two forms of the game.

She did feel the fact New Zealand were not the top seeds for the World Cup would ease some of the pressure on the team and allow them to play better rugby.

In their pool play, the toughest test for the Black Ferns are expected to be Canada, a side New Zealand beat 28-16 in June in New Zealand.

Woodman said New Zealand felt they had not played to their full potential in that game but expected Canada to also lift for the tournament.

"Canada, had they finished off their width-to-width play, they would have scored a couple more tries against us so hopefully they [don't] pick up on those skill levels that they could have brought against us," she said.

New Zealand also face Wales and Hong Kong in their pool.

"They are both very different teams. I'm guessing Wales are going to be a very forward focused team. They will be good in their skillset. They are a rugby nation, they play in the Six Nations and get a lot more game time than we do so they are going to be a strong rugby team.

"Our forwards are going to have to pack down really strong against them, hopefully the backs get to show off a bit of the x-factor and we might be able to show a bit of our 'jazz'," she said.

Hong Kong had been in New Zealand earlier in the year training and playing against regional sides and were expected to be physically fit.

"They are a nuggety country…and while their skill level may not be as high, they will keep going and going and going," she said.