BLACK FERNS MAGIC – ENTERTAINMENT FROM THE TOP SHELF

You know a team is on the right track when their head coach is far from satisfied with a 52-5 test match victory, but that was the case after the New Zealand Black Ferns rugby team outclassed Australia.

 

In a cold night in Christchurch New Zealand had too much power up front, were bruising in defence and with a backline full of stars ran in some impressive tries.

However coach Wayne Smith quite rightly pointed out that they left several more tries out on the field with a combination of sloppy passing and handling letting them down with the try line begging in an entertaining Laurie O’Reilly Cup clash.

However one thing is very obvious, this Black Ferns team and in fact squad, is light years ahead of the under prepared, unfit and under conditioned side that was thrashed by England and France on their previous European tour.

Several key things have happed since then. Coaching great Wayne Smith has come on board and what a coup that has been for the team and you suspect for Smith too, as he speaks so excitedly about the potential of these players and how good they are to coach.

Wayne Smith and Graham Henry - the Black Ferns brains' trust.

" If the Black Ferns' execution had been more efficient they could have scored up to six more tries."

Smith of course has won the men’s World Cup as coach and is regarded as one of the most astute rugby brains in the world.

It was about time the Black Ferns were taken seriously by the New Zealand Rugby Union who made another key and long overdue decision after that disastrous Northern tour, to put the players on full-time professional contracts.

Now they are on a level playing field with the likes of England and France, at least more level than previously.

Smith has assistant coaches Whitney Hansen and Wesley Clarke and has also enlisted the help of former All Blacks scrum guru Mike Cron, previous World Cup-winning coach Sir Graham Henry, while Steve Hansen, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Kevin Mealamu have all been in camp imparting their expertise on the players.

The improvements in set-piece is significant in an area they were brutalised by England in particular.

New Zealand always produce brilliant backs but it was great to see in the test against Australia last week how dominant the forwards were.

Black Ferns Totally Dominant

There are a number of super stars in this Black Ferns team. Ruby Tui on the wing, a sevens star, revelled in defence and at the breakdown securing several turnovers. Brilliant try-scoring winger Ayesha Let-liga is already a superstar, fast, elusive and with a low centre of gravity she’s so hard to stop.

Co-captain and first-five Ruahei Demant was hugely impressive running the show and her two tries were beautifully taken. Veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge is like an orchestra conductor. She’s class fullstop.

Ruby Tui - Sevens Star and shining in 15's also.

“But I think they (Australia) are going to be better than that, and we are going to be playing on their home ground next week, So we just have to get better.”

In an impressive forward pack, co-captain Kennedy Simon and number eight Charmaine McMenamin were outstanding along with lock Jonah Ngan Woo and prop Tanya Kalounivale.

I just love watching the Black Ferns play with smiles on their faces taking on a game plan Wayne Smith has introduced where they play at pace and are always willing to have a crack. They’re a welcome free spirit at a time when a lot of professional sport is strangled by over coaching and over analysis.

So good too to see so little aimless kicking and no issues with repeated scrum resets.

With sevens stars Portia Woodman and Stacey Fluhler also likely in the mix to play in the World Cup in New Zealand which starts on October 8. This tournament will most certainly be a cracker and you would expect several games to be played in front of full houses.

Wallaroo's will be looking to hit back this weekend but it may be a hill too far.

Smith and his assistant coaches will be looking for a significant improvement from the Black Ferns when they take on Australia again at Adelaide this weekend, a pretty scary scenario for the Aussies who no doubt will also improve.

Women’s rugby continues to go from strength to strength world wide as the players receive more support from their governing bodies and with it being an Olympic sport in sevens, the numbers playing will continue to increase.

Big shout out to the all-female commentary team on Stan Sports in Christchurch anchored by Kirstie Stanway. The whole thing was both informative, well researched but most of all fun. The interviews were brilliant, none of the boring stuff you often get from the lads after a test. Just a breath of fresh air and long may it continue. 

Interview & Words by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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