Personal connections crucial to Black Ferns success - Fluhler

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Fluhler told the British rugby magazine, Rugby World, having a connection and understanding who players were, why they were like they were, and where they came from made them a more manageable unit to coach.

But having a coach like Wayne Smith, who had never coached women before, was helpful because he understood people as humans first, Fluhler said.

Smith and his support team, including Sir Graham Henry, knew and understood the All Blacks' environment, which gave them a different perspective.

But understanding people as humans first was crucial.

"We're here for rugby, but we're also here to enjoy each other's company and have a good time. [So] get that right, the rugby comes naturally.

"What made our World Cup win so special was that we had a very new team. I loved that stat about our whole starting pack having fewer caps than Sarah Hunter!

"Having a young, eager team who were keen to learn changed things. We obviously had experienced players there to help guide the team and share stuff from the past. But it was quite cool to have that change and be able to adapt to Smithy's coaching."

While the Black Ferns had a short turnaround time to adapt to the coaching changes, Fluhler believed that anything is possible in life. As a result, she tended to be optimistic about challenges.

"And no matter how much time you have, if you have a good plan, and you have a good vision, and everyone is into it, you can still be successful.

"We had a blank canvas. Smithy knew nothing about us, absolutely nothing.

"He'd never really watched women's rugby - and he admitted that to us. But we had a lot of talks. Not just about technical and tactical rugby analysis but about life in general. That was crucial to him adapting his training style to us.

"So, for any team in the same boat, changing coach late, it's about having the right process, the right people, and just trusting that it will all work out."

They still did hard work behind the scenes, and the contributions were not one-sided, telling the team what it should do.

"We had a lot of input. Our leadership group worked so well with the management team to make sure everyone was on the same page. Because no one's going to buy it if the players don't agree with the coaches, and the coaches don't agree with the players.

"Everyone wants to win! So, it's about important relationships and those actions within the team," she said.

Fluhler was one of four members of the Black Ferns included in the magazine's World XV for the year. Others were wing Ruby Tui, first five-eighths, and captain, Ruahei Demand and flanker Sarah Hirini.


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