Wallaroos greeted by traditional welcome in Rotorua

by Sam Phillips

The Wallaroos have been treated to a traditional Maori welcome upon arrival in Rotorua ahead of their clash with Canada.

The warm welcome was in stark contrast to the intensity of the clash between the Black Ferns and Wallaroos on Tuesday - a match in which the Australians were particularly impressive in the second half.

"It's so special to experience the culture at different events," flanker Chloe Butler said.

"It's always such a privilege to come across the ditch, experience everything over here and take it in.The Black Ferns performed a haka at the welcome. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel"The team has improved tenfold - a bit of a mix of old heads and some really hungry rookies with some really promising skill sets makes it really excited heading into the World Cup.

"The culture is really strong - we just got up then and sung a few songs to show we come from the land down under - you could really see our unity."

One of those promising rookies is Victoria Latu, the explosive No. 8 that was voted Players' Player and Best and Fairest by the coaches after the loss to New Zealand.

"I'm grateful to be recognised by my players and my coaches," she said.

"I'm playing for my friends and family back home.Victoria Latu has had a stunning start to her Wallaroos career. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel"I knew New Zealand was going to be tough - I was supposed to debut against them last year so I was pretty well prepared this time.

"I knew I had to step it up another level against them so I left nothing out on the field - I went all out."

Latu scored a well deserved try late in the second half to cap a performance that featured countless runs over the gain line and what felt like a tackle bust per carry.

"It means a lot (to represent Australia) because it was about four years coming," Latu said.

"To pull on the green and gold is kind of a sigh of relief - that I've finally ticked the box.

"Now it's just going out there and playing for my country, family and friends back home and my teammates."

The Wallaroos take on Canada on Saturday morning in Rotorua, kicking off at 10:30am AEST, broadcast LIVE on worldrugby.org.