Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns find quiet corner of world to prepare for must-win clash against Wales

The Black Ferns face a do-or-die assignment at the Rugby World Cup, but they're more than happy flying under the radar, as they look to take the next step in their title defence. 

The NZ women are based half an hour north of Whangārei, where they hope a more relaxed setting can benefit them in this weekend's quarter-final against Wales.

The small seaside settlement of Tutukaka - population 700 - is home to dog walkers and docked boats - and this week, the world champion Black Ferns, who enter the knockout stages of their World Cup defence.

It’s hardly a typical setting for a quarter-final build-up, their training base still flanked by those who help maintain it, but it suits them just fine. 

"The girls have just relaxed a little bit," said assistant coach Wes Clarke. "They've got the ocean to recover in, instead of a swimming pool, so there's been a definite change in the demeanour of the players."

It's relaxing, but there's still some fanfare and the Ferns are thriving in a place where they can invest everything into Saturday's must-win clash.

"We played a bit of cricket yesterday, not that we were very good," said veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge. "We did a bit of sunbathing, but when it comes to the rugby side of things, we can really just hone in on ourselves and focus on us."

While it might be quiet here, the Ferns make no secret of their will to win. 

Wales hold a sense of familiarity. After playing and powering past them in pool play, they're acutely aware that counts for little this weekend and aren't falling into a false sense of security.

"I think that can happen, right," said Cocksedge. "You can get a little too comfortable, but we’re not a team like that.

The Black Ferns have already faced - and beaten - the Welsh in pool play
The Black Ferns have already faced - and beaten - the Welsh in pool play. Photo credit: Photosport

"We just go week by week, it doesn’t matter who our opposition is."

Any thoughts of a potential mouthwatering semi-final clash with France the following week will have to wait. 

"Some very good teams have lost quarter-finals before, so we don't want to be one of them," said Clarke. 

"The last thing you want to do is be complacent, and a team comes and tips you over," said Cocksedge.

The Black Ferns have the personnel, the attitude and the environment to ensure that won’t happen to them. 

Catch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join us at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Black Ferns v Wales quarter-final