Black Ferns confident Canada defeat won’t hinder World Cup hopes

The Black Ferns have demoted some star players in the wake of last week’s historic defeat to Canada but they insist they’re still on track to defend their World Cup title next year.

New Zealand take on Australia on Saturday afternoon at North Harbour Stadium in their final Pacific Four test and opening O’Reilly Cup match and they’ve made a raft of changes to their matchday 23.

Canada claimed their first ever win over the Black Ferns last weekend in Christchurch, taking the Pacific Four Series title off the defending champions and leapfrogging New Zealand to second in the world rankings behind England.

The Black Ferns coaches have reacted by dropping star wing Ruby Tui from the matchday 23 and demoting World Cup winning first-five Ruahei Demant to the bench for the clash with Australia.

Ruby Tui of the New Zealand Black Ferns (black 14) makes a break. New Zealand Black Ferns v England Red Roses, WXV 1 women’s rugby union match at Go Media Stadium, Mt Smart, Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday 4 November 2023. Photo credit: Alex Leech /

Despite making unwanted history against Canada, Tui contends the defeat came at the right time.

“It’s disappointing, but trust me, we are our harshest critics on ourselves,” Tui said at a press conference.

“I think it is really good timing to smooth out these little issues out and take these little gifts. We want to get amazing in areas that other teams have always been unreal at. Up there (Northern Hemisphere) they take the penalties, kick the threes, kick a lot more. We want to not just play exciting footy but also be good at the Northern Hemisphere style as well with strong structures and set piece.”

Tui’s omission was one of seven changes to the starting XV which include rookie playmaker Hannah King taking over from Demant at first-five.

Hannah King of the Hurricanes Poua.

Prop Amy Rule earns her first start of the year, while Renee Holmes was at fullback and Alana Bremner, typically a loose forward, gets her first start at lock.

Head coach Allan Bunting said the selections were made with next year’s World Cup in mind.

“We want to go well this week but we also want to prepare for a World Cup too and we can’t rely on just a few players, so we want to give an opportunity to a couple of new players. Obviously that first-five position is a key one and we need to have some backup there and Hannah King’s been going very well.

“We are looking to see change in our mental preparation this week. Alongside this, we have a refreshed starting XV, which is growing the depth in our squad and offers them an opportunity to show their capabilities in what will be another intense battle.”

Alana Bremner of the Black Ferns during the Laurie O'Reilly Cup rugby match, Black Ferns Vs Australia, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 20 August 2022.

The Black Ferns are expected to beat the Wallaroos, who suffered a shock loss to the US in their most recent game, a week after New Zealand beat the Americans by more than 50 points.

However, Australia will be motivated, with the defeat to the US leaving them needing to win tomorrow to qualify for the top tier WXV tournament at the end of the season.

Bunting was confident the Black Ferns were prepared.

“We have taken some critical learnings [sic] from our game against Canada,” said Bunting.

“This is now our opportunity to move on and take this next challenge against Australia. There is a great rivalry between our two nations. We know Australia are coming off some pain as well and know how well they played at the end of last year.”

Allan Bunting is tipped to take over from Glenn Moore as the Black Ferns XV's coach.

While the Black Ferns have assured their place in the WXV they don’t want to lose any more ground to the likes of World No.1 England.

They also don’t want a repeat of last week’s ill-discipline, with the hosts conceding 14 penalties and copping two yellow cards in the loss to Canada.

Tui said the Black Ferns need to learn what different referees are looking for.

“Those Northern Hemisphere refs are world class and we are probably going to get them in the World Cup, so we need to learn what they see and ref the game compared to what the officials in Super Rugby Aupiki see and do. We need to learn quicker and that comes under the umbrella of discipline.”

The Black Ferns are keen to move on quickly from last week’s defeat and they know the best way to do that is to produce a commanding performance against Australia.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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