Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore isn’t under any illusions about whether his team are behind the eight ball or not for their tour to England and France, he knows they are, but hopes to catch up soon.
The New Zealand team flew out of Auckland on Thursday for a tour where they’ll play England and France each twice.
It’s a crucial tour in terms of building up to next year’s World Cup in New Zealand, but Moore admits that after two years since the Black Ferns’ last test, they will be playing catch up.
“It’s a fair bit concerning, however we’ve got some time in front of us now before that first test against England,” Moore said.
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“We will get a hit out prior to playing them, we’re playing against England under-23 for 60 minutes and also 60 minutes against Wales.
“So we’re comfortable that we’ve got a couple of good run-ins that will allow us to use the whole squad, prior to selection for that first England test.
“We might be a little underdone, but I’m confident that we’ll come together pretty well.”
The hit outs against England under-23 and Wales, will be in London and take place on the same day, with Moore splitting the squad in two for the games.
While this tour will be good preparation for the World Cup and allow Moore to work closely with the players again, there’s always that pressure to get a result which goes alongside any New Zealand rugby team that has a silver fern on its jersey.
“When you go away with a New Zealand rugby team, the expectation is there that you win and we’ll certainly be going out to do that,” he said.
“But ultimately we focus on getting a performance and making sure the performance the next time we play is better than the last one.
“None of that will change, we’ve got a good squad here and I’m confident that it will come together nicely.”
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate/Instagram
‘Get out and get vaccinated and protect your whanau’, sing Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate and Krystal Murray.
Although the Black Ferns haven’t played a test in two years, Moore tried to keep some continuity and team bonding going and organised camps over that period.
“We planned that really well in my view,” Moore said.
“We’ve had regular camps around every six weeks. We typically leave the players alone during the FPC competition, to focus on that.
“But they’ve been good, they’ve exposed a broader group, we’ve typically been working with 50-55 players at those camps and that’s continuing to grow our base.
“It’s allowed us to try to develop our game and recently there have been the rule changes, so we’ve had to have a rethink around some of those areas.
“But we’re comfortable that we’ve done our homework and landed in a good place.”
Since the Black Ferns last played a test, which was against Australia at Eden Park in August 2019, England have played 14 tests and France 12 and Moore feels the game has moved on while the Black Ferns have been sidelined.
“I think it’s evolved a lot and they’ve been able to play the Six Nations,” Moore said.
“You can see a change in how England are trying to play. They were typically kicking for territory, trying to set up a lot of mauls, but they’re trying to use a lot more ball now, committing less players to rucks defensively.
“So we’ve done our homework there, we’ve had a deep dive into there and hopefully we’ve done enough homework.”
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Black Ferns end of year tour
Hookers: Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Georgia Ponsonby
Props: Tanya Kalounivale, Aldora Itunu, Phillipa Love, Krystal Murray, Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, Amy Rule
Locks: Eloise Blackwell (vice-captain), Joanah Ngan-Woo, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Kelsie Wills
Loose forwards: Alana Bremner, Les Elder (captain), Dhys Faleafaga, Liana Mikaele Tu’u, Kendra Reynolds, Kennedy Simon
Halfbacks: Ariana Bayler, Kendra Cocksedge (vice-captain), Iritana Hohaia
First five-eighths: Ruahei Demant, Patricia Maliepo
Midfield backs: Chelsea Alley, Grace Brooker, Stacey Fluhler, Carla Hohepa
Outside backs: Kelly Brazier, Renee Holmes, Ayesha Leti-l’iga, Renee Wickliffe, Portia Woodman, Cheyelle Robins-Reti
Fixtures (all NZ time)
Monday, November 1, 3.30am : v England
Monday, November 8, 3.45am: v England
Sunday, November 13, 3am: v France; Stade du Hameau, Pau
Sunday, November 20, 3am: v France; Stade Pierre-Fabre, Castres