Kiwi Ferns look for fast start
After being caught underdone in the mid-season clash against the Jillaroos, the Kiwi Ferns have revamped their preparations for the Women's Rugby League World Cup in a bid to fire from the get-go.
Two inter-squad trials and a hit-out against the New Zealand Maori Women were organised with the aim of gelling the new-look national side, which contains six debutants and for the first time in history, two Australia-based players.
Kiwi Ferns coach Tony Benson told NRL.com the improved preparation left no excuses for a slow start at the World Cup in Sydney.
"We lacked cohesion earlier in the year because we had never played together before, that was our first game whereas Australia had played a few games together, and I think that was the difference in the end," Benson said.
"So we have made sure we have covered that this time to get our cohesion and start gelling as a team. We just need to do the things we do better and with a bit more cohesion.
"We think if we can get the key areas right then we are going to be a very difficult team for any country to play.
"I have no question that our individuals are as good as, if not better than those in the other teams, it's just getting it all together."
New Ferns captain Laura Mariu said the Jillaroos had created a clear advantage through initiatives such as the interstate challenge between Queensland and New South Wales, leaving her side to do their best to replicate that build-up through training.
"The Aussie girls are lucky they have some opportunities to play together through the year with some of the stuff they have going on," Mariu said.
"We have looked to match that and it's awesome that we had that game against the New Zealand Maori to build some team morale and get all the combinations sorted.
"There's nothing worse than going into a World Cup and not knowing what everyone is doing, and sometimes it does work that way.
"Hopefully this time it's all sorted."
New Zealand open their campaign against Canada on Thursday, before facing the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea in subsequent pool matches.