Wallaroos excited by Eden Park challenge

Womens International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Eden Park has provided few good moments for Australian rugby in the past three decades but the Wallaroos are more excited than intimidated by the historic venue.

Australia’s men haven’t won there since 1986 and the Wallaroos’ last match at the venue was a 67-3 defeat at the Black Ferns’ hands.

Centre Sarah Riordan made her debut in that match but said there were no haunting memories from that day as they prepare to play at a sold-out Eden Park.

“It's one of the best known rugby grounds around the world so I think we're a bit more privileged to be able to play on it rather than look at the history and Australia's history in there,” Riordan said.

“We're just happy to be able to play on the same standard as the men's.

“I'm not too sure what the crowd numbers were when I did debut but gee it was big and it was loud, so that's all I expect again.

“I think Australia showed our support with the numbers that we actually got to our game (and) I expect New Zealand to bring it bigger, which is great, it'll be a big atmosphere.”

Emily Chancellor echoed her teammate’s views, with the flanker ready to embrace a potentially hostile Eden Park.

“It's just another noise in the background isn't it,” Chancellor said.

“It doesn't matter where you're playing it's the same thing.

“I'm excited to play in New Zealand, I'm excited to play at Eden Park but we'll just have to go out there and do our job.”

The Wallaroos have been overwhelmingly positive after a 31-11 loss to the Kiwis in Sydney last weekend.

Coach Dwayner Nestor said his team had plenty of confidence but was looking for a ‘harder’ mental edge in the second Test.

The Black Ferns dominated the Wallaroos with a destructive driving maul and the side is looking to limit that without losing sight of the rest of New Zealand’s game.

“Dealing with that driving maul is a big one and we expect that to come again this week,” he said.

“We're also hopefully smart enough to realise what opportunities that provides them in an attacking point of view and covering what some of the scenarios that might come of that driving maul.

“It’s also just going back to what we need to do and the little things that we need to improve on, which for us comes back to a bit of attitude.

“If we have a harder edge to our attitude on some of the things we need to execute, we'll be much better off because of that.”

Chancellor said the side needed to strike a balance between shoring up that part of the game and being prepared for other things the Black Ferns might throw at them.

“We've spent a lot of time working on the maul,” she said.

“You've got to work on what we were weak on and that was definitely one of those aspects but we'll have to see what they bring for us this week.

“You can't just plan on mauls because they might turn around and do something else.”

The Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns at Eden Park on Saturday August 25 kicking off at 3pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS. The Wallabies play the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe at 5:35pm AEST, 7:35pm local, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten, RUGBY.com.au RADIO and Macquarie Sports Radio.