Despite a 44-6 loss in Whangerei to the Kiwis, coach Brenda Dobek and her twenty strong squad are upbeat about their chances going into the game against the reigning and three-time World Cup champions.
Skipper Natalie Gilmour of Wakefield/Townville Panthers commented: “I was very disappointed with the result as all the other girls were. We just didn’t seem to complete our sets and the big Kiwi pack cut us up through the middle quite a bit.
“That said I thought we stuck to the task and put in a massive effort defensively. We have got back into training now and I am looking forward to Friday and the second Test.”
Warrington Ladies’ Beth Sutcliffe was also keen to focus on the positives:”I enjoyed the physicality against their pack and I thought the younger players stood up to the test very well. The atmosphere was good but, like everyone in the camp, I was gutted about the scoreline.”
Jo Watmore, also of Warrington Ladies, said:”Playing at loose forward was a new challenge for me personally and even though we were defeated I was pleased that the girls stuck to the task and didn’t back down.”
Lindsay Anfield added: “Having played against the Kiwis a few times I wasn’t surprised at the way they came at us from the start. The lasses gave 100% and I thought our defence work was huge.
“There were a few battered and bruised bodies at training today!” added the Wakefield/Townville Panthers full back.
Head Coach Brenda Dobek is keen for her young charges to learn from their first Test defeat: “I was a little disappointed at the eventual scoreline as I didn’t think we were 38 pts worse than the Ferns,
“We have a young squad and they will have learnt massively from the experience on Sunday. The girls know that we didn’t perform to anywhere near the standard we are capable of.
“We will be working hard in training this week to prepare for another tilt at the Kiwis in Auckland on Friday evening.”
For further details about the England women’s squad can be found at http://www.englandrl.co.uk/team/england-women