Black Ferns to take unique blueprint into the final

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New Zealand coach Wayne Smith, who answered the call to service when the women's game was in dire straits earlier in the year, said the preparation has all been done and now it is up to the players to take their chance.

Smith said, "I think we're in a place that probably a lot of people wouldn't have thought we'd get. There was hope, and what we did against France [in last week's semifinal] was outstanding.

"We know what we've got to do to win it. Every single individual has got to be at her very best on Saturday.

"It's a time to cherish for sure, and there are a lot of emotions that come up as you end a big tournament like this. We're going to have fun and enjoy the journey just like we have done this whole tournament. We haven't changed our outlook too much."

Smith, who won two World Cup winner's medals with the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015, is stepping back from coaching, along with Sir Graham Henry, who has also assisted the side, said the style of game he preferred reflected the All Blacks of 1966-69 under coach Sir Fred Allen and captain Brian Lochore.

"I wanted to teach the girls how to play on top and to create skills that only we need because we're the only ones playing that sort of game.

"You need a unique set of skills and mindset to play how we play. I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to create that, but I think we've done that.

"We're not perfect but, hopefully, it's a blueprint for the future because it's excited the people, and it's excited the girls."

With injury denying Liana Mikaele-Tu'u a place in the final, Charmaine McMenamin has been preferred ahead of co-captain Kennedy Simon at No8. McMenamin had filled the role earlier in the tournament while, since returning from injury, Simon had provided impetus when coming on as a substitute in games.

Also stepping back after the tournament is halfback Kendra Cocksedge but she wasn't thinking about that, as her focus was on the final

"There's a big job at hand and it's not about me. It's about the team and we're about to embark on a pretty awesome occasion which is a sold-out Eden Park at a Rugby World Cup final, which I know is going to be the highlight of people's careers."

There was plenty of time over the summer to reflect on her career. She said she felt privileged to have been part of the growth in the women's game during 30 years of playing.

Cocksedge had no qualms with the style Smith chose for the team and said it fitted with her growth mindset.

"When Smithy came on and told me we're not going to be doing any box-kicks, I was glad. I've been able to express myself a bit more, and as a halfback, I love that - to be able to play freely and play what's in front because that's important, and that's my style.

"I love being able to play the way we are."

Wing Ruby Tui said she was proud of their England opponents for what they had done for the women's game.

"They're leading the world in all facets of it, and we've got a little bit of catching up to do.

"England are an amazing team, and we respect them and the dominance they've had. You have to respect that as a rugby player but when we cross that white line…"


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