Rugby: Wayne Smith's World Cup-winning influence filtering down into Super Rugby Aupiki

The teachings of Kiwi icon Wayne Smith on the World Cup-winning Black Ferns are trickling down through women's rugby in New Zealand, says lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos.

Despite his short tenure as the Black Ferns' director of rugby, Smith completely transformed the team's fortunes after taking over in early 2022.

From rebuilding the team after a disastrous northern tour in 2021 under Glenn Moore, Smith led the Black Ferns to glory at last year's World Cup in six months, before retiring from coaching again.

Wayne Smith with the Rugby World Cup.
Wayne Smith with the Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

But Smith's influence on the Black Ferns are now filtering down to the next level.

Of the 32 players who were part of the World Cup victory, 25 are part of this season's Super Rugby Aupiki campaign across the four New Zealand teams.

Now, as Super Rugby Aupiki approaches its pointy end, Blues lock Roos says the lessons handed down from Smith have been key part of the competition's sophomore year.

"It was such a blessing to be in that team, and to be coached by Wayne Smith - the legend of Wayne Smith - this young," Roos told Newshub.

"Having that kind of learning and way of looking at rugby has been really beneficial this campaign.

"We've tried to roll on heaps of those [lessons], like keeping the ball alive, playing fast, playing on top.

"There were like six of us who were in that World Cup squad, and we've really tried to bring that and share that with everyone."

This week sees Super Rugby Aupiki enter the knockout stage for the first time.

The competition's debut in 2022 featured only six games, with the winners - Chiefs Manawa - being crowned after a round robin stage.

In 2023, though, teams will play off for a spot in the competition final.

Despite finishing third, the Blues will have somewhat of an advantage against Matatū at North Harbour Stadium, while title holders Chiefs Manawa face Hurricanes Poua.

For the Blues, who've twice finished short of lifting the trophy - beaten by Chiefs Manawa in a one-off match in 2021 and in Super Rugby Aupiki last year - the next two weeks loom as a huge opportunity to get the monkey off their back. 

"It's do or die this week, everyone will be wanting to go hard," Roos said. "It's just who shows up on the day and believes it on Sunday.

"I really want to win, we have all the girls for it, have the heart.

"It will just be who shows up."