On June 6, Australia led 10-0 in the first game of the Pacific Four Series in Tauranga. The Black Ferns eventually rallied, grounding out a 23-10 victory.
Last Saturday, the Black Ferns beat Australia 52-5 in Christchurch, the hosts scoring eight unanswered tries before conceding in the last minute.
The Adelaide Oval is the venue for the 22nd O'Reilly Cup fixture. Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith is expecting a vigorous response from Australia this weekend.
“They’re a tough team. The score can be misleading. We clearly need more accuracy in what we do. We find the Aussies tough physically. They’re really good at the jackal with the second player over the ball causing a lot of errors around the ruck. It’s doubly difficult on away turf to follow up with a good performance,” he continued.
The Black Ferns intent to attack expansively was encouraging, but a high error rate was irritating. Seven changes have been made to the side for Saturday's clash.
Hooker Luka Connor, prop Amy Rule, lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos, openside Kendra Reynolds, halfback Ariana Bayler and midfield duo Chelsea Semple and Sylvia Brunt all come into the starting fifteen.
Grace Steinmetz debuts at fullback, while Bay of Plenty prop Santo Taumata will come off the bench.
Grace is the niece of All Black 1030 Paul Steinmetz. The speedy outside back is originally from Paraparaumu.
Study took her to Canterbury where she has flourished, except for untimely injuries consigning her to the sidelines for the Northern Tour in 2021 and again during the Pacific Four Series in June.
“Grace has electric feet. She's good defensively and with a big left foot kick gives us another option. I’m interested to see her go,” Wayne Smith said.
“Santo was a centre at Te Puke High School so she’s very able, quick off the ground, and a pretty explosive prop. She’s only 19 at tighthead. In time she’s going to be a force of nature.”
Softly spoken, Santo was timid when reflecting humbly upon her national selection.
“It was a goal, but I didn’t prioritise it because of the pressure,” Taumata said.
“I really enjoyed centre, but I saw I wouldn't get far there.”
Steinmetz expressed vindication for her patience and resilience.
“I felt a little bit teary, like I didn't express that on the outside but inside I’m like it’s finally happening, '' she said.
“A few times it’s been taken away from me, but this time is the time."
‘Work-on’s’ are something that Wayne Smith and the Black Ferns coaches are constantly demanding.