NZ women face Aussies in rugby Test

A revitalised New Zealand women’s rugby team begin a four-game tune-up for the World Cup when they face Australia on Sunday in Rotorua.


black-ferns-1200The Black Ferns play home Tests against Australia, Samoa and Canada (twice) in the space of 14 days to prepare for the World Cup in Paris in August when they will pursue a fifth successive title.

Boasting 12 players who were part of the 2010 triumph in England and seven members of the world champion New Zealand sevens squad, coach Brian Evans has a strong group to work with.

He says the side have made strides since losing five games to England and drawing one during a difficult period in 2011-12.

“That hurt like hell. Afterwards, it was months of thinking in your head of what you could’ve done better,” Evans said.

“Out of those dark times comes the light. It was reinvigorating.”

New Zealand beat England 3-0 at home last year and Evans wants to see further progress in June.

He says there is competition for World Cup selection and says he will balance winning the four Tests with ensuring several fringe players experience time on the field.

“We will try to do different things for a couple of games. We’ve not been in this position before a World Cup,” he said.

“I don’t think any New Zealand team would take games lightly but there’s an opportunity (to experiment) and I think we should take it.”

The Black Ferns play Samoa in Auckland on June 7 before Tests against Canada on June 10 (Tauranga) and June 14 (Whakatane).