What All Blacks can learn from Black Ferns
CHANTAL 'SHORTY' BAKER
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Saturday night's Black Ferns performance against the Manu Sina Samoan team was a showcase of how a clinical game should be played.
If any coach wants to show their players the purpose behind tactical play and how to execute it, they should use this game as an example.
There was a consistent display of positive kick and chase plays from half back Emma Jensen, and committed chasing from outside backs Selica Winiata, Honey Hireme and Renee Wickcliffe.
There was also a strong display of continuity and trust between the inside backs of Kelly Brazier, Amiria Rule and Huriana Manuel.
Their rugby intelligence and high skill level would make their opposites feel uneasy. Any opposition needs to be at their best to minimise the destruction of this back line, but Brazier, Rule and Manuel are patient and precise, so when they decide to strike there's usually casualty for the opposition and reward for the Black Ferns. It's brilliant to watch.
Now, on to the forward back, the loose trio of Aroha Savage, Justine Lavea and Casey Robertson have the ability to mix it up tough n' tight or link up loose with the backs.
In the tight five, Ruth Mckay, Fiaoo Faamausili, Aleisha Nelson, Jackie Patea and Rawinia Everitt set the strong foundation for the team. They are grafters, not searching for glamour they play their roles tight with accuracy at the breakdown, creating space for the speedy backs.
What sets the Black Ferns ahead of the other teams is their execution of fundamental skills; taking ball into contact, hitting a weak shoulder, clean ball presentation, effective and low clean outs, and accurate catch, pass and kicking.
Watching this team perform as accurately as they do is so entertaining. As a spectator you can see and read what they are trying to achieve on the field, and to a degree their play is almost predictable.
The Black Fern's style of play could be considered traditional, where the forwards muscle up front, smashing the ball close to the ruck to make space for the beautifully balanced backs to step through for try scoring opportunities.
This current Black Ferns squad is so well balanced with experience, rugby intelligence and athleticism across all members of the squad, that they will be very tough to beat. But this state of the team had a lapse in 2011 and 2012 where they lost both test series miserably to England, it was embarrassing to watch.
The Black Ferns looked weak, unfit and unprepared and those poor experiences have only driven the team to work harder to get into shape, which generated revenge over England last year, where they won the series 3 - 0 here in New Zealand.
The Black Ferns are exciting. They continue the proud tradition of success and mana within New Zealand Rugby. As the All Blacks are, the Black Ferns are fine role models that display a united culture of high expectations and commitment.
It has been tremendous that the team have had the opportunity to showcase their talents on their home soil to help promote their game and their build to Paris. All the best Black Ferns in your preparation for the World Cup!
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