Rugby World Cup: New Zealand must ‘be smarter’ against ‘frightening’ England


New Zealand director of rugby Wayne Smith says his side has “got to be smarter” against a “frightening” England team in the World Cup final.

Hosts and holders the Black Ferns reached the decider with a thrilling 25-24 victory against France.

They will face England at Eden Park on Saturday, 12 November after the Red Roses held off a determined Canada.

England are on a winning run of 30 Tests in a row and Smith said they would pose “another step up again”.

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The Red Roses came in as firm favourites but after men’s World Cup-winning coach Smith took over in April, New Zealand have closed the gap at this tournament.

The Black Ferns have excited the home crowds with their running game, but their kicking left them vulnerable against France.

“We’ve created such an attacking attitude that they don’t want to kick,” Smith explained. “No one wants to kick in my team.

“So, we’ve got a bit of work to do on that next week. We’ve got to be smarter against England in the final.

“Obviously, I’ve done a lot of work on England as all the coaches have, they’re pretty frightening, they’re so efficient in what they do.

“We’ve made up a bit of ground, whether we can make up some more ground over six days, I’m sure we can.”

New Zealand and France traded scores to the delight and despair of 22,043 fans in Eden Park before French fly-half Caroline Drouin missed a late penalty that would have sealed victory for her side.

Although the Black Ferns have improved significantly, they suffered two record defeats by England in autumn 2021.

That may explain why Smith – who was assistant coach when New Zealand’s men won a home World Cup in 2011 before claiming the title again in 2015 – still holds the Red Roses as favourites to take the title.

“I’ll probably be a bit freer this week, I think,” he said.

“I think the fact that we’re in a final gives you now an opportunity to really get loose and really go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose.

“We’re underdogs [and] I’ve never been in that position before, actually.”

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