Black Ferns have everything to lose, say underdog Wallaroos

Womens International
by Sarah Friend

Veteran lock Rebecca Clough believes the Wallaroos can use home ground advantage to upset the world number one New Zealanders.

Clough, 29, said her team's underdog status is also an advantage that could help the Wallaroos pull off a shock win over the Black Ferns, who go into the game as heavy favourites.

“We’ve been preparing for the last few months, Super W set a really good platform and we’ve been working our buts off, so this is just exciting, and we just want to play now,” Clough said.

The last time Australia played the Black Ferns was in 2016, at Eden Park, where the side went down 67-3.

But Clough is a lot more confident this year, with the value of the inaugural Super W competition and increased preparation time both working to improve the Wallaroos as a squad.

“Each year camps are getting bigger, longer, the quality of coaching and quality of the girls is stepping up," she said.

"The prep that we had even before coming into camp has been unreal, nothing like we’ve ever had before.”

Clough, who is veteran of three Wallaroo World Cup campaigns, believes history can be written - in more ways than one.

“The Black Ferns, their number one for a reason. They’ve got everything to lose though and we’ve got nothing to lose," Clough said. 

"They're just flesh and bone just like we are, and we’ve got a huge point to prove.

"We know we’re better than sixth in the world at the moment, so we’re really excited.”

The Wallaroos have been studying up on the Blacks Ferns, which vice captain Clough knowns will only strengthen their ability to predict and counter their rivals' strengths.

“It’s a part of our analysis, that’s how I play I always look at my opposition and study them thoroughly," Clough said.

“We’ve been working on so much these past few days, a lot of execution, skill execution, speed and it’s all coming together. We’re really gelling together really nicely."

Wallaroos rookie Shanice Parker, 20, is soaking up in her first Test experience with the squad, and having fellow West Australian Clough nearby is a major help.

“She’s really taken me under her wing and really looked after me. All of the leadership group has been awesome with us young ones," Parker said.

"If given the green light to play Saturday night Parker will make her Wallaroo debut at home.

"It will be an awesome debut playing against the best in the world and I’m already getting a bit nervous just even thinking about it. If I don’t make the 23 I’m just privileged to be in this extended squad and to make history.”

The Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, 18 August. The Wallabies also host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe Cup game, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST. LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.