Black Ferns looking for strong finish to Pacific Four Series

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The hosts are looking to complete an unbeaten campaign following victories over Australia (23-10) and Canada (28-0). 

The USA were beaten by Canada first up in Tauranga, but on Sunday they produced a stunning 16-14 upset over Australia. 

Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith is weary of the American threat. 

“They had a lot of girls turn up from the English Premiership after the Canada game and they raised the standard. The USA is going to be a good challenge for us and we need to be spot on to meet that challenge, Smith said.

“When you're winning you can’t let winning become your enemy. You need to create some discomfort so the players are on edge and are in the mindframe to get all the details right.

“We do a lot of work on the other team. You’ve got to shape the opposition to play the fast attacking game we want to play. Everything is a continued work-on.”

Seven of the eight tries the Black Ferns have scored in the Pacific Four Series have been scored in the second-half. Smith has seen that kind of trend before. 

“I went through this with the All Blacks. The emotion of the build up, national anthem and haka takes you up high. Players need to find their way to be in the right state for kickoff. It’s something we are working on.

“It’s pleasing we’ve learnt from our plays in the first half and where we needed to be better in the second. Against Canada our defence and lineout was outstanding. The lineout is way ahead of where it was last year.”

Hooker Natalie Delamere and prop Lucy Anderson will be involved in the functionality of the lineout. Both players make their Test debuts tomorrow with Delamare starting and Anderson to be introduced from the bench. 

“Natalie and Lucy represent all the girls in that they are smart, mature and have huge gratitude,'' Smith said. 

“All these women have careers, they’ve worked for what they’ve got but they can’t go out and shine unless the others shine too, so I’m hoping all the girls stand up for them.”

From Murupara, Delamere has played 39 games for Bay of Plenty and Waikato in the Farah Palmer Cup. She earned a place in Matatū for Super Rugby Aupiki, but unfortunately Covid prevented her from playing. 

Wallaroos first-five Arabella McKenzie was also a member of Matatū and when her New South Wales Super W side was short of hookers she invited Delamere across the Tasman for a reserve spot. Delamere was so impressive she ended up the leading try scorer in the competition and scored a hat-trick in the final against Fijiana Dura.

“I didn’t think about making the Black Ferns at Matatū, I was there to do a job for Matatū," Delamere said.

“It’s been pretty hectic going to Australia but I got my chance and it happened to work out.

“When I was named in the team I couldn’t hear myself think. Everyone was screaming and clapping. I called my dad at work and he was like ‘what.’ He was so proud. The whole family is coming to the game.”

Lucy Anderson was first involved in a Black Ferns camp in 2013. She was named in the team in 2018 but didn’t get on the field. She has played 58 games for Canterbury and won four Farah Palmer Cup titles.

“It’s been a big journey. I’ve had a lot of injuries and changed a lot of positions,” Anderson said.

“I started in the midfield, then eight, then prop. There have been times I doubted myself, but I’m really excited I got there. I’m still learning, but it's amazing to see the growth. I can even use some midfield skills in the forwards.”

It was Black Ferns assistant coach Whitney Hansen that encouraged Anderson to switch to prop. Anderson is thriving under the tutelage of Mike Cron.

"Crono’s a goat. His knowledge honestly it’s unreal. You tell him something’s happening and he knows how to correct it straight away.”

Cron was involved with the All Blacks from 2004 to 2019, a period they won 181 out of 211 tests. 

Anderson’s switch from loose forward to prop isn’t without precedent in the Black Ferns. Canterbury’s Casey Roberston won three World Cup titles, two in the position of tighthead prop.  In 2020 Robertson was named blindside flanker in the Rugby World Magazine all-time greatest women’s XV. In the loose forward trio she partnered English World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees Maggie Alphonsi and Gill Burns.

The Black Ferns and USA kick-off at 4pm from Semenoff Stadium in Whangārei. Get your tickets HERE and catch the action live on Spark Sport. 



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