Ferns look to build on Nines success
It might have been a different form of the game with a different squad, but the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns will feed off their success at the NRL Nines come Friday's Test against the Australian Jillaroos.
That victory in the three-game series at Eden Park earlier this year saw the Kiwi Ferns dominate their trans-Tasman rivals with a sheer physical presence on both sides of the ball.
On top of the mental advantage it will give the New Zealanders ahead of the clash at Suncorp Stadium, new coach Alan Jackson said the experience of playing in front of a big crowd will also serve his side well.
"Success breeds success and the girls can work off that Nines success and won't be overawed," Jackson told NRL.com.
"It will give our girls a little bit of confidence. Maybe if they didn't play at the Nines they might go over to Suncorp and be quite overawed about playing Australia, so that will help out a lot.
"Nines is a different game to 13's, but we will take a bit from it and it will give us some confidence."
The Test will be Jackson's first as coach of the Kiwi Ferns, taking over from Rusty Matua who enjoyed a successful tenure which included a win in last November's game against Australia as well as guiding the side to Nines victory.
Jackson is a product of the New Zealand Rugby League coaching pathway, and last year took the Mid Central Vipers team to the New Zealand women's domestic final, earning Coach of the Tournament honours along the way.
He said there would be no overhaul of the playing style, but a few minor changes which he hoped would take the Ferns to new levels.
"There will be a couple of little changes but there won't be any major things done," he said.
"Rugby league is a simple game and Rusty had them going really well, so I am not going to try and reinvent the wheel or anything like that.
"A different voice and a few different ideas. My coaching philosophy is quite a bit different to Rusty's so that is quite healthy at times.
"It looks like Australia have gone for a little bit more size with an eye on matching us in the middle of the park.
"I had a little look when some of the girls played before the NRL All Stars v Indigenous All Stars game this year and they looked very good.
"You have got to go north-south before you can go east-west, so we will be looking to match them and get over the top of them around the ruck before we go wide.
"We will just try and execute a little bit sharper and stuff like that."
Meanwhile with usual captain Sarina Fiso out injured the Kiwi Ferns won't lose much in terms of leadership, with 15-year veteran Laura Mariu taking over as skipper.
"Laura has been around a long time, is a very good player and is cool, calm and collected under pressure," Jackson said.
"She is a leader in her own right and always has been.
"It was quite an easy decision and I have found her so good to work with."
The Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns game kicks off at 5.20pm, acting as a curtain-raiser for the Kangaroos v Kiwis Anzac Test match later that night.