Black Ferns Tests the best thing for Wallaroos: Nestor

Womens International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallaroos coach Dwayne Nestor would have his team play the Black Ferns every week if he could.

Nestor, speaking after his side’s 45-17 loss to New Zealand at Eden Park, said the only way to keep improving was to test themselves against the best as much as they can.

The Wallaroos’ opportunity to play Tests is generally limited because of the fact that most of the Test nations are in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is expensive for teams to travel to Australia or vice versa and with the Wallaroos till an amateur team it can be tricky to take time away from work and study to undertake those kinds of tours.

Rugby Australia was in discussions to bring Ireland’s women down under but that fell through after difficulties reaching an agreement with the IRFU.

New Zealand faces similar issues, though they will be going to the UK on a rare end-of-year tour this year.

That the Black Ferns are their nearest neighbours could be seen as a blessing or a curse but Nestor said his team should always be keen to play their trans-Tasman rivals.

“We love the fact we play the Black Ferns because if you want to be the best, you've got to play the best,” he said.

“That opportunity is valuable for us and we need to be able to create that sort of play for 80 minutes.”

Despite two ultimately big losses in as many weeks, Nestor said he was confident his team would continue improving with another season of Super W and Tests in 2019.

“With another season of Super W underneath our belt next year, we'll be in a better position to then be stronger for the Wallaroos next year and hopefully if we can build a Test match program that provides more opportunities to play Test rugby (that will help),” he said.

“I think that's probably the biggest problem we've had in the past is we just haven't been able to play Test match rugby.

“So, for the girls that experience isn't there.

“They get on a venue like this and then an environment like this and they're still learning.

“Every opportunity to play a game is a learning opportunity, so you need to play more of them.”

Wallaroos skipper Liz Patu was sensational for her side after a disappointing outing in Sydney and it was she and no. 8 Grace Hamilton that set the tone for the team.

Nestor was full of praise for the duo post-match.

“Liz last week she was disappointed with her performance and she had some impetus going into this week and I think she improved a lot,” he said.

“Between her and Grace, they were probably our best carriers and creators of pressure on the Black Ferns."