Smith wants to see Black Ferns play 'their' own game against Wallaroos


The Black Ferns open their 2022 season on Queen's Birthday Monday in Tauranga with a Test against Australia. Smith said he was looking forward to the game, his first, and there was some nervousness ahead of that.


But he was also looking forward to watching the side develop.


"If we try and play the way the big teams play in Europe we're not going to compete. We have to play our own way. We have to play an exhilarating brand of rugby that suits our culture and our background," he said.


Results mattered, but the O'Reilly Cup and the World Cup were the longer-term goals.


The game issues were the same between the women's and men's games. It was about playing a type of game that would excite the country. That was their responsibility, and he would like to see the style of rugby they play, especially during the World Cup, leave its mark on New Zealand.


With seven debutantes named for the game, Smith explained that it came down to a selection issue of having players in form when they get their chance to contest a place in the World Cup team.



"So some of our players, who have been greats of our game and could be greats of our game again, have got injuries, are coming back from injuries, rehabbing, might have been available for this series. But, I didn't think they were at the stage where they could put their best foot forward, so they're going to get a crack later on," he said.


Several exciting younger players were emerging who had been named and would have their chance.


Selection was something the players did by presenting themselves in their best form, he said.


While there were only 13 caps in the selected pack, Smith said he expected aggression from the players while he also felt they would get around the field faster. Some exceptional fitness changes would be seen.


He felt the side had not matched Northern Hemisphere sides in the speed between phases in their game, but they were getting there, although more work had still to be done.


Halfback Kendra Cocksedge who will play her 58th Test, a New Zealand record, said the talent coming through was exciting.


"The style of rugby we are trying to play is really exciting too. In think in the past we were probably a little over-structured so Smithy is giving us that freedom to be able to play quick and expansive and on-top rugby," she said.


With the World Cup still five months away, the side didn't want to peak too soon, she said, but they wanted to make a start on Monday and reflect on their growth after the disappointments of their northern tour last year.


Smith expected to see some mistakes from the side on Monday because if there weren't, they were not playing the game they had been training.


"But I expect to see us being inventive, being adventurous, having the courage to play the game we've been working on," he said.


It was likely to be wet, but the players were highly-skilled, and he wanted to see them doing what they had been training.



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