Black Ferns relish life on the road ahead of first test in 26 months against England

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Kendra Cocksedge, pictured in a game last year against the New Zealand Barbarians, could play her 54th Black Ferns test against England this weekend.

MARTIN DE RUYTER / STUFF

Kendra Cocksedge, pictured in a game last year against the New Zealand Barbarians, could play her 54th Black Ferns test against England this weekend.

Life on the road is good.

The Black Ferns are back on tour and are enjoying the first weeks of their European adventure after 26 months without a rugby test.

Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic – and tens of thousands of positive cases daily in the UK – means the team and staff are indeed living in a bubble under strict protocols ahead of the opener against England in Exeter Sunday (Monday New Zealand time).

Black Ferns mainstay Pip Love celebrates a tryout against Australia in 2018.

Marty Melville / PHOTOSPORT

Black Ferns mainstay Pip Love celebrates a tryout against Australia in 2018.

But the Black Ferns are yearning for a return to the international match, with two tests each against England and France to come, and matches against two women’s rugby heavyweights are exactly what they are looking for.

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Outside of rugby and regular testing for Covid-19, the team tried to live tour life as normally as possible, visiting historic sites such as Wembley and Stonehenge, while making the most of their new hotel during the week. Halloween.

“It’s been quite interesting with Covid,” the mainstay of 11 Pip Love tests from Exeter (New Zealand time) said on Wednesday.

“I don’t feel like it was much different from a normal tour. We are not locked in our hotel rooms and have been playing cards, games and lots of girls singing and getting together.

“And our new hotel is apparently haunted. It added more fun to the mix because it’s Halloween on Sunday night.

The four-test tour will be a huge challenge for the reigning world champions ahead of next year’s World Cup defense at home, but it’s ideal preparation for a 34-person touring squad of 12. uncapped players.

England are the world No.1 and reigning Six Nations champions after knocking New Zealand out of first place, albeit after making 14 tests when the Black Ferns have played none.

“We have a lot of newbies and it’s going to be a battle,” said Black Ferns assistant coach John Haggart.

“We admire what England are doing, but we think we will be able to put a good team there and face them.”

Haggart said the lack of rugby for some of their players after the disruptive impact of Covid-19 on the Farah Palmer Cup will be problematic when it comes to naming a team, but there should be chances for most of the team in the coming weeks.

“You have to play the best. We know they are, ”Haggart said of England.

“There is also the big picture. Yes, we want to win all the tests and be the best we can be, but we need a rugby test match at the highest level to prepare our players to win another World Cup.

Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate / Instagram

“Go out and get vaccinated and protect your whanau,” sing Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate and Krystal Murray.

The Black Ferns beat England 28-13 in their last meeting in San Diego in July 2019 and won 41-32 against the English in the 2017 World Cup final in Belfast.

Black Ferns veteran half-back Kendra Cocksedge started both meetings.

She said the Exeter test, which would be a record 53rd in the black jersey for Canterbury No 9, was their first chance to make a statement against their World Cup rivals, with the tournament in under 12 month.

The Black Ferns played two 60-minute games against U20s England and Wales in London last weekend, winning 83-3 and 53-7 respectively.

“This weekend is going to be two more levels higher than that,” Cocksedge said after their two warm-up wins.

“There is a lot to play and after two and a half years, as you can probably tell, I can’t wait to come back.

“We’re here to do a job and put a stake in the ground against these teams leading up to the World Cup next year.”


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