Black Ferns veteran Kendra Cocksedge has no doubt they can beat France after the wāhine in black secured a Rugby World Cup semifinal spot on Saturday after storming home 55-3 against Wales.
“I believe we can [win]. I think we are playing a really good brand of footy,” the half back said.
“We’re causing chaos, we’re on top, we don’t have anything too structured. We’re just playing the game and expressing ourselves, so I believe we can win this World Cup.”
The 10-try victory saw an improved Black Ferns forward pack, which will be a key area for the Black Ferns as they head into a week of preparations before the semi-final. Amongst the forwards making an impact is co-captain Kennedy Simon, who has returned from injury.
She said following the quarterfinal victory the Black Ferns have been keeping a close eye on France during the tournament.
“It’s safe to say they’ve got good defence. Our game plan will help us capitalise on that,” she said.
“We’re just going to bring … aggressive line speed and make them [France] not want to run it. But it’s a different team, a different vibe, a different feel, so we’re going to get up for it.”
Saturday’s Eden Park semi-final against the French will be two weeks shy of a year since the Black Ferns trudged off the field in Castres after another bruising tour defeat to France, when they lost 29-7.
But it’s not worrying Portia Woodman, who made history over the weekend by becoming the most prolific try scorer at the Rugby World cup – men’s or women’s.
She said last year when the side played and lost to France the Black Ferns had “bugger all rugby under our belt”. But with Pacific Four, a series against Australia, three World Cup pool games and a World Cup quarter-final, the squad is feeling prepared.
“It’s a lot more games than what we had last year. It’s really awesome. But no doubt it’s going to be a hard game against France,” she said.
“They’re a big defensive team. They are physical up front, and we’ve got to bring it too. I back our skills, our backline and our forward pack strength.”
French head coach Thomas Darracq said reaching the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup was a goal for his team. They did it with a 39-3 quarter-final victory over Italy on Saturday.
He said playing the semi-final will be “very difficult but nothing is impossible, and we have to work hard”.
French captain Gaelle Hermet said it’s good to hit the squad’s goals of reaching the semifinal, but they are also enjoying the process.
“It’s like the smiles at the end of the game. We’re enjoying ourselves. We know that there are still things to correct, but we’re going to work again and again. I’d like to say: see you next week.”