High risk play pays dividends for the Black Ferns – Wayne Smith

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Smith's experience as an All Blacks coach and an All Black meant he knew what it was to be the hunted when every opponent had you in their sights.

England had been on an incredible run to win 30 consecutive games.

"They're an incredible team with great structures. They're hard to combat when they get into those zones around the lineout and the driving maul.

"We knew from six months ago that if we were going to play them, we would have to develop our unstructured game.

"We would have to play something different and take some risks.

"Luckily, I've got a captain that drove that and got the team behind her. I don't think this team will ever go back to not doing that."

But forcing the side to change its mindset was also a practical exercise in coping because while they had worked on a strategy of not giving England any lineouts or penalties, that hadn't worked.

However, the ability to cope with that and to continue probing for weakness saw England undone at its strength in the play of the game that mattered – the last lineout on New Zealand's line.

"We took a risk on that last lineout.

"The message was set down: get someone up. That someone was Joanah Ngan-Woo who's a phenomenal athlete, good under pressure and she did the business."

The Black Ferns won the contested lineout, England infringed, and the final whistle blew with the score intact.

Smith hoped New Zealand would build on the success because there were potential global superstars deserving of being encouraged in every way.

"We've got young props, young midfielders, young wingers out there – honestly, there are so many good kids coming through in women's rugby that it's unbelievable."

Smith said the most phenomenal moment of his life had been standing on Eden Park and hearing the crowd chanting the players' names.

And of his leader Ruahei Demant, he said, "She's led this team phenomenally. She's played a phenomenal brand of rugby. She's been consistently the best player on the field and I give her all the credit. She's been outstanding."


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