Rugby: How Wayne Smith reacted to Allan Bunting's Black Ferns appointment

He's won an Olympic gold and Super Rugby Aupiki, now Allan Bunting has been tasked with leading the women's game into the future.

The former sevens mentor has been named as the Black Ferns director of rugby, replacing Wayne Smith who stepped down after the World Cup win.

Bunting's appointment comes at a time where interest in women's rugby is on the rise, although concerns have been raised whether remaining here really is the best option.

The 47-year-old built his reputation on moulding world-conquering cultures. 

Now, he's taking over one.

"For me, [culture] has always been where I am going to make the most difference," said Bunting, who was previously the Black Ferns' manager of culture and leadership.

Bunting's appointment comes with his predecessor's blessing, with Smith quick to offer his assistance.

"He was pretty rapt," said Bunting. "I'm going to need his help. 

"He said he's always going to be there and I'm sure if we start going off track he'll give me a call, whack around the ears and he'll be there pretty quickly."

Bunting's promotion comes at a time when the women's game is thriving, still basking in the glow of last year's World Cup victory on home soil.

However, players have shared their frustrations about the lack of opportunities in Aotearoa compared to the likes of the relatively lucrative English women's domestic competition and even the NRL.

"It's going to take a bit of time but we think the calibre of athletes and the calibre of coaching we now have coming into the environment is going to build something pretty special," said NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

NZR hopes the Black Ferns will play at least seven tests this year, and while Super Rugby Aupiki's about to begin its second season, expansion overseas won't happen in 2023. 

"We can't miss this opportunity," insisted Bunting. "We have to build off the back of it, and pretty quick."

The hard work starts now for both Bunting and New Zealand Rugby.

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