England wary of Black Ferns threat on home soil

getty     10 Jul 2013     getty

England kick off their three-Test campaign against the Black Ferns on Saturday, and they meet again on July 16 at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton and then for the final clash on July 20 at the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe.

England were Series victors in 2011, winning two games and drawing the third before a history-making 3-0 white wash in 2012. Hunter, however, believes the Black Ferns will now have the upper hand with the Series being on home turf. England have not played in New Zealand since 2005 and they have only once beaten the Black Ferns in their backyard, back in 2001.

The Lichfield No. 8 said: “Having won the last two series is a huge achievement and it fills the squad with great confidence but we are very aware that playing in New Zealand will be a very different prospect. We are definitely not going into this Series with any complacency. We have belief in ourselves but we have upmost respect for New Zealand and the threat that they pose. They are a very talented team full of skilful players so we cannot under estimate them.

“The roles have now been reversed - we are now the ones travelling half-way around the world, managing jet lag and playing out of season - so it will be a real test of our character to overcome these challenges and perform to the high standards we set ourselves.

“The last time England won in New Zealand was over a decade ago so we are certainly going down there with the goal of changing that. It would be huge achievement for us to be the first England team to win down there since 2001.”

With just 12 months to go until the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France, the Series represents the last time the two sides will meet before that tournament. Hunter believes taking on the World Champs will provide invaluable insight as to where England stand a year out.

“This Test Series will be the start of our countdown towards the RWC,” added Hunter. “This will certainly be our biggest challenge so far. Playing in a RWC is very special and it’s exciting that it is not far away now. Although our focus and priority is very much on performing well in New Zealand it will in fact be an insightful series in many ways.”