Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns wary of more opposition time-wasting tactics to stifle attacking prowess

The Black Ferns are wary of more time-wasting tactics being employed by their Rugby World Cup opposition as a means of stifling their fast-paced brand of rugby.

In Saturday's opener against Australia, the Australians were consistently slow to form at setpiece - particularly at scrum time - which assistant coach Whitney Hansen believed was a deliberate ploy to reduce the speed of the game, thereby mitigating one of their most potent weapons.

Powered by their core of sevens speedsters, expansive backline play is one of the cornerstones of the Black Ferns' style and was one of the primary reasons they were able to transform an arm-wrestle into a 41-17 blowout win at Eden Park.

Hansen said they're expecting other teams to follow the blueprint the Australians laid down against them.

"It's definitely a tactic I think teams will try and use against us," Hansen said.

"We're trying to play fast, exciting footy that's great to watch, and I think teams are going to try and pull that across the World Cup because it eats away minutes of us doing exciting things.

"Hopefully that's something referees will look at and police. We're certainly practicing how quickly we can do it - at training we reckon we've got [setting scrums] down to about 10 seconds 

"So bring on opposition, we're welcome to any challenges around that."

The Black Ferns shook off a nervous opening half when they fell behind on the scoreboard to roar back into the contest and eventually run away with victory against the Wallaroos in the tournament opener, much to the delight of 47,000 vocal fans.

Hansen believed their stuttering start was simply a byproduct of the moment and is confident they'll face no such issues in their second Pool A showdown against Wales at Waitakere Stadium on Sunday.

"It was a pretty massive occasion and they've had that now," she noted.

"We know what we've got to do. The girls have got to individually look at their own plans and come back around that…. everyone's really different, so there's probably not one particular thing as a team that we'll be doing differently.

"I think we'll continue to get experience through the games we play".

Sarah Hirini in action at Eden Park.
Sarah Hirini in action at Eden Park. Photo credit: Photosport

Another key focus for improvement will be in the forwards, after the pack struggled to get the upper hand over their Aussie counterparts, especially at setpiece.

The double yellow card blow to the visitors eventually killed off any semblance of equity, but Hansen said the forwards had taken it upon themselves to level their performance up against the Welsh.

"I think they recognise it wasn't good enough. We're better than that, and they didn't showcase or introduce themselves in a way we set out to.

"So we've got to re-look at that and go out and do it next week.

Wales only narrowly avoided an upset defeat to Scotland in their Cup opener on Sunday, when Keira Bevan's clutch late penalty clinched an 18-15 win.

"Wales had some good options on attack," Hansen observed. "They certainly are here to play and they'll be a force to be reckoned with and a good challenge for us."

Join us at 3pm, Sunday for live updates of Black Ferns v Wales