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Duane Vermeulen: 'My goal has never changed, I want to represent the Springboks at the World Cup'

Man-of-the-match at the last World Cup final, and turning 37 next month, the legendary No 8 still has the hunger for one last dance in France

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Black Ferns are a 'new side' after last year's end-of-year tour

By Finn Morton
Alana Bremner, Kendra Cocksedge and Ariana Bayler of New Zealand line up for the national anthems ahead of during the Rugby World Cup 2021 Quarterfinal match between New Zealand and Wales at Northland Events Centre on October 29, 2022 in Whangarei, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Star scrumhalf Kendra Cocksedge believes the Black Ferns are a “completely new side” after last year’s disappointing end-of-year tour, which included two losses to France.


The Black Ferns were comprehensively beaten in all four Test matches during the tour, including a 56-15 loss to World Number One England in Northampton.

As for their two Test matches in France, the hosts won both matches by at least 22-points, and will be full of confidence ahead of their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand this weekend.

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But the Black Ferns have come a long way, that’s clear for all to see, and will be full of belief themselves after an utterly dominant tournament so far where they’ve scored 209 points in four matches.

Cocksedge, who is playing in her fourth World Cup, insisted that the team has “moved on” from last year’s tour and are ready for what’s next.

“Everything (has changed) to be honest with you, we’ve improved a lot,” Cocksedge said after the quarter-final win over Wales.

“We knew that tour wasn’t great and we’ve moved on from that, and we’re playing some really exciting rugby that everyone loves to watch.


“It’s fast paced, it’s causing chaos, our set-piece is getting there now, our defence is really, really good.

“We’ve just changed, we’re a completely new side.”

All Blacks centurion Mila Muliaina is confident that the coaching ability of Wayne Smith can help the Black Ferns get over the line on Saturday.

Smith was part of the coaching group that won two Rugby World Cups with the All Blacks, and he’s also had success at Super Rugby level.


Speaking on The Breakdown, Muliaina said that France will come up against a “different team” this weekend.

“He hasn’t hidden away from the fact they want to play a different game,” Muliaina said.

“If I was France, this is a different team that you’re going to go up against.

“You’re looking at a team that want to play a hard, on top of the ground, fast game… so what do you do? You want to kick, you want to kick to isolate your back three, force them into mistakes or force them to kick it out and try and slow the game down.

“Smithy will draw all on that emotion that they would’ve had… the bits that relate to where they’re from, what their jersey is all about. We’re massive on that in terms of New Zealand rugby.

“He’ll draw on that the next couple of weeks to really fire the girls up because it’s going to come down to that little bit of emotion and they’re going to need it up front because that physical battle has to be won.”

For rugby fans, a World Cup Test match at Eden Park between New Zealand and France is an exciting repeat of history.

Both teams will be eager to keep their World Cup dreams alive when they run out to Eden Park for the second semi-final on Saturday.

As for the other semi-final, England will play Canada in an earlier game.


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RUGBYPASS+ Duane Vermeulen: 'My goal has never changed, I want to represent the Springboks at the World Cup' Duane Vermeulen: 'My goal has never changed, I want to represent the Springboks at the World Cup'