Jillaroos expect physical clash with Ferns

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The New Zealand Ferns’ considerable muscle makes the Jillaroos’ Auckland Nines whitewash irrelevant in the 13-a-side game, according to Australia coach Brad Donald.

The Australians took a clean sweep of February’s three-match series but the ledger sits at 2-1 in three Tests between the two nations since the 2013 World Cup ahead of Friday night’s Test at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

“I’ve watched the games for the last couple of years and the 13-a-side game is a whole lot different to nines,” Donald, who took over late last year, said on Thursday.

“I’m happy to go on record and say we probably got a little bit lucky going to the nines and not taking our bigger girls and playing a different brand of football.

“It worked for us at the nines but it won’t work for us tomorrow night.”
Jillaroos skipper Ruan Sims, who missed the nines with injury, is expecting a typically physical encounter.

“Every Test match we play against the Kiwi Ferns is a torrid affair,” she said.

“Their forward pack is menacing and their back-line is dangerous.”

The Kiwi Ferns’ 3-0 defeat in rugby league’s condensed format precipitated coach Tony Benson’s appointment, and he’s selected six debutantes to face the Jillaroos.

“We’ve played nines and got a fair thrashing there so we’ve had to make changes not only with personnel but in the way we do things,” Benson said.

The Ferns will be led by veteran fullback Serena Fiso, who was also injured during the nines, and she is wary of the Australian attacking threat.

“We’re hoping to dominate up front because we’re quite physical in that area but we need to be able to match them out wide,” Fiso said.

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