30 Nov 2017

Kiwi Ferns determined to bring cup home

5:47 pm on 30 November 2017

It's a hot, muggy day in Queensland, but it's doing little to hamper the preparation of the Kiwi Ferns as they attempt to win back the Women's Rugby League World Cup from Australia.

Kiwi Fern Laura Mariu breaks through the Jillaroos, 2017.

Kiwi Fern Laura Mariu breaks through the Jillaroos, 2017. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Ferns trained today at the Brisbane Norths club, about a 15 minute drive out of the city. According to skipper Laura Mariu, it's a noticeable change from the climate they've had their lead up games in.

"Yeah it's a lot warmer than it was [down in Canberra and Sydney]. I think that changeover the day after our semi final was tough, but we've settled in now." she said.

That semi final was a comfortable 52-4 victory over England, however the performance was far from perfect. The Jillaroos will be a much tougher prospect for the Ferns this Saturday afternoon, a fact not lost on Mariu.

"Our coaches have done a lot of analysis, and we all need to work together about being on the same page. It's been a long journey from [their first match in] Canberra, our team are a lot fitter now. This means everything to our team, a lot of sacrifices have been made."

Those sentiments were echoed by star player Honey Hireme, who has scored 11 tries in the tournament so far.

"We had some pretty average completion stats and lost a lot of momentum. However once we came out and reset ourselves in the second half, when we play our kind of game like we did, we're pretty unstoppable."

It's Hireme's fourth World Cup, which she says have 'all been very different'.

"It's nice to be back in Australia. We're playing a similar final to what we did in the 2008 World Cup and we're hoping for the same result."

Despite the heat, she's a big fan of Suncorp Stadium, often described as the best rugby league ground in the world - not least because of the '08 final where they smashed the Jillaroos 34-0 to claim their third World Cup.

Hireme says that the achievement of the Black Ferns earlier this week in winning World Rugby's Team Of The Year award is inspiring, and that they draw inspiration from all other New Zealand representative teams - both male and female.

Both players are well aware of the huge history of mana in both the Kiwi Ferns and New Zealand Rugby League.

"We're really grateful for the huge amount of support that we've got from the NZRL, we're very lucky. I don't feel under pressure because I know my teammates have got my back, we all get along so well and it just makes for good football." said Hireme.

"We're just really proud kiwis and we love our culture and families, and want to make them proud."