Well everyone, we're now less than a month away until the World Cup champions return home, how exciting is that?
Having lead the Black Ferns to glory in 2022, co-captains Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon, will lead the team out for the first time on home soil since 12th November that year. With the team now immortalised as national icons, a huge homecoming will be well-worth attending!
As much about the team has changed in the last year, let's dive into today's article and see what there is to know about the Black Ferns and their Australian opponents from across the ditch, from their recent winning rate, to players to watch and of course... where to get tickets! They're now on sale!
This graphic appears in the article, courtesy of New Zealand Rugby.
The Black Ferns have won all 20 encounters between the two nations, so will look to keep the win ratio of their new Head Coach, Allan Bunting, at 100%.
Bunting first joined the Black Ferns' environment in 2022 as an Assistant Coach to Wayne Smith and is yet to lose a match during his association with the team. The Black Ferns' last loss occurred on 20th November, 2021, while they were on a northern tour to play against France and England.
The Black Ferns' win streak has now extended to 15 on the bounce, showing the influence that Bunting has had as a coach. The Black Ferns have also lost just twice on home soil, putting huge odds against the Aussies.
Australia, who finished as quarter-finalists in 2022; having lost to England, will be more determined than ever to win. Appearing to have survived some recent off-field issues however, they'll be more hungry than ever to defeat the Black Ferns. Australia appear to have started finding rhythm, having crushed the USA in a huge 58-17 onslaught during this year's July test matches. Although that was their only win this year, womens' sport has been booming in Australia as of late, potentially giving us a sign of what's to come?
Black Ferns' Results in 2023:
50-0 vs Australia (won)
52-21 vs Canada (won)
39-17 vs USA (won)
Australia's Results in 2023:
0-50 vs Australia (lost)
58-17 vs USA (won)
7-45 vs Canada (lost)
Players to Watch
Ahead of this test match, there are also some key players to watch. The Black Ferns named their squad yesterday, while provided these two picks from the opposition are picked, they could also light the stadium up with their highlight reel moments. I've picked a forward and a back from each nation, who to my knowledge will all be available, here's some mini-biographies for them!
Nation: New Zealand
Age: 31 years old
Test Caps: 10 tests
Yes, she's available for selection and has been selected in the squad! Having already known her through her work in the media space, Ruby Tui became a household name to most New Zealanders last year, after she debuted for the Black Ferns' 15s side. Having an extensive background on the 7s scene from 2012 and onwards, Tui finally switched over in 2022, having won an Olympic Gold medal the year before.
10-test Black Ferns winger Ruby Tui, waits on the wing for a set-piece in the 2021 Rugby World Cup final, that was played in 2022. Photo: Max Sharp.
After Tui scored 8 tries in 10 tests during 2022, she took a well-earned sabbatical for the first half of this year to possibly prolong her career and has since returned for Counties Manukau in the Farah Palmer Cup. During her first three games back, Tui managed to run 257 metres, beat 11 defenders and produce 9 linebreaks, while scoring 4 tries and holding a tackle rate of 83%. It's safe to say that she's well and truly back!
Age: 31 years old
Test Caps: 26 tests
A proper hard-nosed flanker, Grace Hamilton will be sure to win a few turnovers and make some big hits once she trots out to the pitch on her namesake city. Although rugby didn't arrive on Hamilton's agenda until she went on an OE to the United States, she's been a proper physical figure of the Australian side ever since her test debut back in 2016.
Hamilton currently plays for the Waratahs in Super Rugby, while her dedication to staying match-fit during the COVID-19 pandemic; reached honourable heights as she made a temporary conversion to Rugby League. As one of Australia's oldest players and their most-capped, she'll be sure to assist the leadership group with Piper Duck recently ruled out.
Nation: New Zealand
Age: 22 years old
Test Caps: 17 tests
Kendra Cocksedge will forever be remembered as one of the all-time greatest Black Ferns, after her 68 test caps. Due to the Black Ferns' recent rise however, Cocksedge had to wait 6 seasons before reaching her 17th test cap; in 2013. 22-year-old Maia Roos on the other hand, has racked up 17 tests in less than 24 months. That's absolutely incredible, a true testament to her promise.
Maia Roos (black, centre) is pictured carrying against England, having started in the World Cup final aged 21. Photo: Max Sharp.
Roos' most recent test cap, which was against the USA, saw her become the Black Ferns' youngest ever captain, putting her in a serious position to overtake Cocksedge's record. An athletic player in the lineout, who always has a high tackle count, expect the Aucklander to play a blinder of a match at set-piece against the Aussies.
Age: 24 years old
Test Caps: 15 tests
Although she plays for the Harlequins in England, McKenzie remains eligible for Australia and the team is absolutely better for it. Similarly to Roos, McKenzie is a young gun showing plenty of leadership potential - the team noticeably improves on attack with McKenzie running the cutter. Even better, she's already fifth in terms of the current squad's most-capped players.
From a small town named Lightning Ridge, in New South Wales, McKenzie didn't convert from league to union, until 2016, when she watched Australia succeed in the Olympics' 7s tournament; winning a Gold medal. Having previously played for Matatū in 2022, McKenzie's growth from support worker, to world-class player, is absolutely unbelievable and perhaps even still ongoing.
Where to Purchase Tickets:
Now that we've learned about some key players to watch from either side ahead of this fixture, as well as the recent results of either team, there will surely be some interest for tickets building. Luckily, with the match less than four weeks away, the wait is nearly over!
Tickets from just $5 NZD are available on New Zealand Rugby's website, as per the link below! What an exciting game for the family we have on the way!
Link to Tickets: