Rugby: Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore confident side will overcome disrupted two years out of test action

The Black Ferns concede they're likely to be behind the eight ball when they play their first test matches in more than two years against England and France on their Northern Tour.

The side departed Auckland on Thursday for four tests against their northern rivals, wary they won't be perfect when they take the field again, but optimistic the right signs will be there for a successful World Cup defence next year.

The farewells might be tough, and at times a little rushed, but this is a significant departure for the Black Ferns.

"I finished my school work at 11:15 this morning, uploaded it onto the server, so now I can head on tour with a clear mind," jokes Eloise Blackwell.

After two years in test rugby wilderness, the side is raring to go for their first international clash since 2019. 

"We may be a little bit underdone," says coach Glenn Moore. "But I'm confident we'll come together well."

It's been a long and difficult two years. 

Their entire test schedule was wiped last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic - leaving them with a Probables vs Possibles clash, and two matches against a New Zealand Barbarians side. 

But two tests against the two biggest threats to their World Cup defence is an ideal way to get back into the international game. 

"We tried to target tier one nations, and we've got three of the best teams in the world playing," adds Moore.

"They're looking forward to it, we're looking forward to it."

In a way, the results are less important than the performance. Steady growth against England and France will be invaluable. 

But with a World Cup less than a year away, there's no hiding from the fact that spots in that squad will be up for grabs  

"It's our opportunity to put our hand up, and make a claim for a spot next year," says Blackwell.

"The message has gone to all the players, and we'll never hide from that," adds Moore.

"That's any window to be seen, you've gotta make sure you are seen."

A return to test rugby with more on the line than just the results.