Black Ferns prepared for 'nothing to lose' Wales side in quarter-final world cup clash

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

The Rugby World Cup has seen stellar action and upsets galore but more importantly has showcased the top levels of women's rugby in Aotearoa on an international stage as never before.

With pool action now complete, the tournament has reached the quarter-finals and knockout stage. Today in Whangārei the Black Ferns take on Wales in tournament clash number two.

In pool play two weeks ago, the Ferns were victorious 56-12 in a dominant performance against the northern hemisphere team with 10 tries scored. Wales did dominate through parts of the game though, and now have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this do-or-die quarter-final clash.

But the hosts won't be letting their foot off the throttle, especially at home.

Centre Stacey Fluhler (Ngāi Tūhoe) is back to start, having only played the opener against Australia three weeks ago. Speaking to teaomā, she is raring to get back to rugby action.

"You know how it is. Rugby is such a physical sport but it's all good. I'm healed and ready to play this weekend in front of an awesome Ngāpuhi crowd," she says.

The Welsh will look for revenge on Saturday - will the Black Ferns deny it?

Collective instincts

Because she's played with teammates Ruby Tui, Portia Woodman and Sarah Hirini on many occasions in sevens and union, Fluhler says their collective instincts will have a huge impact on this all-important game.

"We know how each other plays, we know our own strengths and weaknesses. We can use that against other teams."

As for the wider team, Fluhler says the forward pack have a point to prove against Wales when their forwards dominated the scrum and lineout two weeks ago.

"They've done the work they need to do. And to be fair we don't have the most experienced forward pack in terms of caps but I love what they bring in terms of their attack and defensive plays and individual abilities.

"They're not afraid to do a show and go or play like a back, or use their step or fend. So if the girls can utilise their skill set within this Welsh team then it's going to put us in the best position possible moving into semis and finals."

The action will be at Northland Events Centre in Whangārei tonight at 7:30pm.