Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry believe women’s rugby league is “well and truly alive” following his team’s heroic effort against the Australian Jillaroos.
The Aussies entered the tournament as heavy favourites and their stock rose with emphatic victories over the Cook Islands and France.
However, New Zealand posed an entirely different challenge on Thursday night, with Australia narrowly walking away as 10-8 victors.
Looking back at the result, Henry said: “Really proud. The girls dug deep. Both teams played some really good footy. We were on the [wrong] end of the scoreboard, but I think women’s rugby league is definitely well and truly alive.”
He added: “We scrambled hard tonight, we talked about effort, we talked about energy, that sort of stuff to keep us in the game. We knew the Australian team would be coming and we worked really hard at crucial times in the game.”
Australia finished top of the group thanks to the narrow victory and will now set their sights on Papua New Guinea in Monday’s semi-final.
New Zealand, on the other hand, will take on hosts England in a mouth-watering world cup clash.
Kiwi Ferns captain Krystal Rota is looking forward to the last four encounter, and believes England carry a threat despite being seen as the underdogs.
She said: “We watched a little bit of their game [against PNG]. We noticed they’re quite a physical team. We like to be physical as well. I noticed they’re really physical down the middle but they’ve also got some speed on the edges. It’s going to be a good contest in the semi-finals.”
When asked about the Lionesses, head coach Henry added: “For us, we’re going to have to play really well against England as well. We’ll get our bodies right, heal well, and face them on Monday and try to get the job done.”
Both semi-finals will take place at the LNER Community Stadium in York on Monday, November 14.
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