‘We’ve thrown everything at it’ – Sir Graham Henry

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New Zealand opens its campaign against Australia at Eden Park on Saturday in front of a world record crowd for a women's game of close to 45,000.


Smith said there was an expectation of the Black Ferns, because of their success. They understood that and the heritage emerging in the women's game.


"But that doesn't mean a lot out on the field. The game has changed. You've got the early stages of the professional game here, and you've got women coming from Europe who have been professional for a few years. There's been a lot of money poured into their game.


"So, the landscape is slightly different but the expectation remains."


Assistant coach Sir Graham Henry said the difference in experience was notable.


England had more than 1200 Test caps in their side, France had high numbers, while New Zealand had 380 Test caps, which was a big difference in experience.


"So, we've got to come to it quickly if we are going to be competitive, so that's a massive advantage for them compared with what we've got."



The Black Ferns management does have resources within the New Zealand game to call on, and they have had great support.


Henry had come on board as an analyst, while former All Blacks scrum guru Mike Cron was involved, and All Blacks players had also worked as mentors with the Black Ferns.


"We're throwing everything at it. It doesn't guarantee anything. I think we're giving it everything we've got, and hopefully we go well."


The Blacks Ferns most experienced player, halfback Kendra Cocksedge said the side was excited about the prospect of playing in front of a record crowd for a women's game at Eden Park.


"We've never had this much media. The players and staff are getting noticed more on the street. It all lets us promote the game more."


However, all the attention aside, the Black Ferns have been focusing on what they need to do well in their game.


"We talked about pressure, and the pressure of playing the World Cup on home turf, and embracing it. We need to run out on Saturday and soak it all up."


At the same time, they needed to stay in the moment.


"Don't get ahead of yourself, because you have a job to do and that's play good footy."


Knowing their Australian opposition would be a help in doing that.


"We've played them a few times this year, and they have been different. They are quite physical. We know where they are going to try to exploit us, so we have worked on that this week.


"And, we worked on the spaces we are looking to exploit them," she said.


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