Black Ferns look for big forward effort against England
June 7, 2001

Black Ferns coach Darryl Suasua has put an emphasis on forward power in naming his side to play the first test against England in Rotorua on Saturday.

Suasua expects the imposing English side to attack the Black Ferns at the set pieces and in the tight, in a repeat of the torrid forward battle between the two sides in last year's Canada Cup final in Winnipeg, eventually won 32-13 by the New Zealanders.

"This is one of the biggest tests we have faced for many years. We know England will throw everything at us from the start and we are expecting to work hard," Suasua said.

"The English have traditionally shown a dominance in the forwards. We remember how tough it was last year at the Canada Cup when they had our scrum under a lot of pressure and we're working really hard to match them."

Suasua has reflected the need for forward muscle by starting with powerful props Rebecca Luia'ana and Regina Sheck, who both weigh over 90kg and came off the bench to good effect against England in Canada - in what was the Black Ferns most recent outing.

Uncapped prop Tia Paasi (99kg) wins a place on the bench while Suasua is also able to look to imposing young looseforward Tala Mulipola and hard-working lock Rhonda Kay to keep the pressure on among the forwards.

Other changes to the Black Ferns' most recent lineup see flankers Melodie Robinson (open side) and Rochelle Martin (blind side) returning after being sidelined by injury, along with winger Vanessa Cootes who traveled to the Canada Cup but missed the England camp due to a knee injury.

New Zealand heads into the test with a few injury worries among the backs, however, with key players Tammi Wilson and Anna Richards both facing fitness tests before being cleared to start on Saturday. Hannah Myers has been bracketed at fullback with Wilson, while reserve winger Sandie Yates is also under a cloud, forcing Suasua to call in Bay of Plenty and New Zealand Sevens player Tamuku Paul as cover.

Despite the Black Ferns' 10-year unbeaten record, Suasua said his team was feeling the pressure going into the two-test series against England, who swept aside Australia 3-0 enroute to New Zealand.

"They have had a lot of time together and have had a good season. Their players are semi-professional and they have two fully professional coaches," said Suasua.

"What they don't have is the black jersey or the Black Ferns' history and tradition to motivate them. I know our players will give everything to this game, particularly in front of the home crowd in Rotorua."

The second test will be held at North Harbour Stadium on June 16 as the curtain-raiser to the All Blacks test against Samoa.

Black Ferns:

Tammi Wilson (Auckland)/Hannah Myers (Otago), Vanessa Cootes (Waikato), Annaleah Rush (Auckland), Suzy Shortland (Auckland), Exia Shelford (Bay of Plenty), Anna Richards (Auckland), Monique Hirovanaa (Auckland), Cheryl Waaka (Auckland), Melodie Robinson (Auckland), Rochelle Martin (Auckland), Victoria Heighway (Waikato), Fiona King (Otago), Rebecca Liua'ana (Wellington), Farah Palmer (Manawatu, captain), Regina Sheck (Waikato).

Reserves: Suzy Dawson (Northland), Tia Paasi (Wellington), Rhonda Kay (Waikato), Tala Mulipola (Auckland), Neroli Knight (Wellington), Amiria Marsh (Canterbury), Sandie Yates (Counties-Manukau).

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