Jillaroos desperate for Kiwi revenge
Jillaroos captain Stephanie Hancock has lit the fuse for an explosive Test against the Kiwi Ferns next week, believing the Australian side has seen the best the Kiwi girls have got to offer.
In what is shaping as a curtain-raiser capable of upstaging the main event, the Jillaroos are determined to make up for an Auckland Nines display they called "disgraceful" and to prove that their 2013 World Cup win wasn't a one-off fluke.
Since registering their first official win over the Kiwi Ferns in the World Cup final almost two years ago, the Jillaroos have gone down narrowly in a Test in Wollongong in 2014 and lost the three-match Auckland Nines tournament 2-1 and Hancock says they are smarting.
"A few of us have a little bit of – I don't know if anger's the right word – in the tank after the Nines especially," Hancock told NRL.com.
"The Nines was just disgraceful. We had no idea. We were thrown together, we'd never played Nines, we had one training camp before we left and we had no idea.
"That's what it looked like on the field to us players and we just felt bad that we didn't actually show our full potential.
"Seeing the top five hits and all that crap and seeing our girls getting absolutely slaughtered and then that Test match in Wollongong, to lose in the last minute...
"I think they've shown us the best they've got to be honest. We've got so much we can improve on but I don't think there's much they can improve on."
The Kiwi Ferns have traditionally asserted their dominance over the Jillaroos through the forwards but assistant coach and Jillaroos legend Karyn Murphy believes that if the Aussie forwards hold their own the likes of Ali Brigginshaw and Jenny-Sue Hoepper can create plenty of opportunities for exciting newcomers Mahalia Murphy and Latoya Billy.
"Through the middle there is a lot of room around the ruck," Murphy said.
"Our forwards in the past have struggled to match them for the full 80 but if they can match them – and they've definitely got a big forward pack – there's enough skill in the backline to put some points on."
Although the Australian women are the reigning world champions, Jillaroos back-rower Renae Kunst said that the Kiwi Ferns' recent success entitles them to start the match as favourites.
"While we won the World Cup we've actually lost the last time we played against them in a Test match," Kunst said.
"You're only as good as your last game and even though we won the World Cup we go into this game as the underdogs.
"I think everyone's got a lot of fire in the belly and are determined to prove that we're certainly a better side than what unfortunately what we were in Wollongong."