Try-hungry Black Ferns enjoying life in Ireland, but focus is firmly set on end goal

Tomorrow’s pool decider against Canada will be much more of a test than their opening two clashes.

Theresa Fitzpatrick tries her hand at camogie earlier today.
Theresa Fitzpatrick tries her hand at camogie earlier today.
Image: Cody Glenn/SPORTSFILE

NEW ZEALAND HAVE been thoroughly enjoying their World Cup experience in Ireland to date, both on and off the field.

They’ve played some beautiful free-flowing rugby in their opening two fixtures, and notched up comprehensive victories over Wales and Hong Kong respectively.

They put the latter to the sword on Sunday and clocked up a massive 121-0 win, with winger Portia Woodan crossing for eight tries. It was all a numbers game in the end, a walk in the park with all of the Black Ferns involved enjoying their eighty minutes on the the Billings Park turf.

Following the sound of the final whistle, the Kiwis gravitated towards the stand, chatting with the Hong Kong players en route, and smiling for photos with fans in the crowd. Then, as a unit, they marched into dressing room singing. Job done, onto the next one.

AIG event with the New Zealand Black Ferns, Dublin Ladies Footballers and Dublin Camogie Claire Donnelly, Aisling Carolan, Selica Winiata, Hazel Tubic, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Molly Lamb and Sinéad Goldrick were all at today's AIG event. Source: Cody Glenn/SPORTSFILE

“In that game, we just wanted to get it wide,” full-back Hazel Tubic says. “That was pretty much our game plan, the wingers were scoring and everything was going right. We were doing everything we were supposed to do.

“We were lucky in how our pool turned out to be, and the timing of all of the games,” two-time try-scorer on Sunday Theresa Fitzpatrick adds.

“We’ve just used the first two games to try different things, with our game plan and that. But we won’t be able to do that against Canada.

Tomorrow, as they say, brings much more serious matters. The pool decider, and opposition comes in the form of the 2014 World Cup finalists Canada [Kick-off 12pm, Billings Park, UCD].

“It’s a big step up,” they both agree. ”We have to really show up.”

With no injury concerns, head coach Glen Moore has been given the welcome opportunity to ‘put out their strongest,’ and tomorrow’s main aim is a simple one.

Hazel Tubic scores a try Tubic scores a try against Hong Kong. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“The coach wants us to get at least four tries,” Fitzpatrick continues. “There’s a bonus point so we want to get as many points as we can.”

“The way that the tournament’s set up, because it’s three pools — three top and then best second place,” Tubic adds. “Whoever gets the top seeds for the semis is whoever has the most points throughout the whole pool play.

“The more points that we can accumulate, the more chance of us finishing one, which means we can play fourth place-getter. So, easier — well it’s supposed to be the easiest, but I think once you get there it’s all the same. The teams are all good.”

They’ve already sent out two strong statements of intent to the rest of the competition, and it’s the same story again tomorrow.

Relentless. Score as much as they can: ”Yes,” they nod collectively. “First thing is to win though.”

We’re entering the business end of proceedings, but it’s clear that up to this point the Black Ferns have been enjoying their time in Ireland off the field as well, with the four-time World champions immersing themselves in the local surroundings and interacting with the supporters — both their own and others — who have come out to watch them.

Theresa Fitzpatrick Theresa Fitzpatrick. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Today, Fitzpatrick and Tubic were present at an AIG event alongside some Dublin ladies footballers and camogie players, where they took part in a skills session across the three codes.

“We don’t know how it’s going to go, but we’ll give it a try,” they laugh, when asked if they’ll pick up the hurley and sliotar, or football.

Staying on campus in UCD, until they pack their bags and head for Belfast over the weekend, the Kiwis have been busy exploring Dublin — Grafton Street and Trinity College among the tourist spots they have stories from.

“It kind of reminds me of home a bit with the countryside,” Tubic smiles. “It’s a city here, but it’s not a full-on busy city, it’s quite nice. We’ve been into the city centre a couple of times, and a few other places.

She’s been here before for the November Internationals last year, but Fitzpatrick hasn’t.

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When questioned on her surname — surely there’s an Irish connection there — she agrees, but is unsure of any immediate connections.

AIG event with the New Zealand Black Ferns, Dublin Ladies Footballers and Dublin Camogie Tubic at today's AIG event. Source: Cody Glenn/SPORTSFILE

For both, it’s their first World Cup, meaning they missed Ireland’s historic win over their side in France in 2014.

“We watched it on TV but we weren’t there to play.

“Luckily,” they agree, half-laughing.

One things for sure — the All Blacks are here to rectify the disappointment of three years ago and they’re completely focused on the job in hand.

They’ll enjoy themselves along the way though, both on and off the field.

AIG were in Old Wesley Rugby Football Club in Donnybrook today to facilitate a meet and greet with representatives from the New Zealand Black Ferns, Dublin Ladies Football team and Dublin Camogie team. The girls participated in a cross skills challenge involving gaelic football, camogie, and rugby.

AIG are Official Insurance Partner of the New Zealand Black Ferns, and local sponsors to the Dublin Ladies Football team and Dublin Camogie team.

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Emma Duffy

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