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Nita Maynard sparks the Kiwi Ferns at the 2017 World Cup.

With the four NRLW teams hosting almost the entire extended Jillaroos and Ferns squads and so much player movement between the clubs, there are many best friends facing each other in Friday's Test in Wollongong.

There was already plenty of familiarity among the rival teams but with so many players switching clubs between seasons one and two of the NRLW, several close friendships have been formed that bridge the trans-Tasman divide.

The Kiwi Ferns players will bounce into this Friday's Test buoyed by their upset win over the Jillaroos in the World Cup 9s final.

Ferns playmaker Raecene McGregor will again face off against premiership-winning Broncos halves partner Ali Brigginshaw while winger Kiana Takairangi and hooker Nita Maynard will each have best friends wearing green and gold.

While there have been patches of lively banter between the squads there is also plenty of mutual respect.

"I think we've gotten better at it this time round," Maynard laughed.

"Last year was a little bit awkward – do we say hello beforehand, do we not?

Kiwi Ferns after another scalp before returning home

"I think because everybody's starting to mix and match within the teams themselves it's a bit more normal now, we're not so awkward when we see everybody, it's all love off the field. Some of the girls in the Jillaroos are my best mates I hang out with all the time."

Specifically, Dragons fullback Botille Vette-Welsh, who was born in Kaitaia in New Zealand's far north and represented New Zealand Maori All Stars earlier this year.

"Botille's like my best friend. It's a shame she couldn't be on this side but I'm happy for her to see her growth over the past few months, it's been incredible for her and I'm happy for her to get the opportunity," said Maynard, who shifted from rugby to league alongside Vette-Welsh a few years ago.

"We both came across at the same time so I've always been encouraging her to go out and give it a shot and to see her get her shot has been really great."

Takairangi is similarly tight with a clubmate and Jillaroos rival.

"Some of the girls in the Jillaroos are my best friends off the field so it is a bit tough but when we get onto the field and that changes, you're enemies for the 80 minutes," Takairangi told

"When it comes down to it, it's business, you're going out there to do your job and not worrying about who you're up against.

"Corban McGregor's my best friend and she got one up on me in the finals – she tackled me out so I'll be trying to get her back in this game for sure."

McGregor finished the World Cup 9s with the player of the tournament award – a medal that in all likelihood would have gone to her Broncos halves partner had the Jillaroos triumphed.

"I'd never played with Ali before so it was awesome to get to play with someone of her calibre this year," McGregor said.

"She's a great player and she really took me under her wing. Not so much to baby me, she just said to me 'make sure you do what you do best and I'll do what I do' and I felt we complemented each other when we play."

Jillaroos call up a shock for Penitani

As to whether last Saturday's impressive win in the reduced format would carry any psychological weight for a Ferns squad that hadn't beaten the Jillaroos in three years, Takairangi hoped it would.

"I think so, it's a good stepping stone for us," Takairangi said.

"They wouldn't have been expecting to lose and it's a massive confidence boost for us. I don't even think we knew we could do it, just going in with that confidence that we got one over them in a game that they probably should have beaten us in.

"We're on a high, we're going to keep riding it and hopefully that goes all the way into Friday night's game."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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