Coach Wayne Smith's 'pep talk' and Ruby Tui's red hair: Stacey Fluhler's Black Ferns kōrero

By Te Ao Toa
Credit / Sky Sports

A halftime team talk by coach Wayne Smith and a large dose of self-belief provided a platform for the Black Ferns to power away from Australia in the second half of their thrilling opening match of the rugby world cup, won 41-17 by New Zealand, Stacey Fluhler has told Te Ao Toa. 

The Black Ferns were backpedalling almost from the start as a fired-up Australia raced out to a 17-nil lead inside the first half hour.

"I think it was just first-time jitters for a lot of the girls. All that pressure playing in front of your family and friends," said Fluhler.

"Smithy had a real good talk with us. Obviously, he was gutted but he's so positive.

"So it kept us calm, cool and collected. We knew what we had to do in the second half. First thing, we just needed to hold onto the ball.

"Our forwards stepped up. We played the exact game plan that we were supposed to play in the first half, forwards rumbling through the middle. And then it gave us space out wide to score some tries."

Fluhler says she never doubted the Black Ferns would win, even 17-0 down, "I was pretty calm, I'm gonna be honest. I was like 'nah, we're not gonna lose.'"

The whole 'home world cup, opening game' experience is etched in her mind, she says.

"It was a little bit overwhelming but man it was special. Honestly, it's something I'll never ever forget."   

Watch Fluhler's kōrero on Te Ao Toa for the story behind Ruby Tui's red hair.