The Warriors’ 2023 season is one for the books, highlighted by how many are jumping on the bandwagon.
Beyond the loyal fans, there’s a growing intrigue about how the New Zealand NRL side has landed in this weekend’s preliminary finals.
The fascination extends to fellow professional sports teams, including the World Champion Black Ferns. As one of New Zealand’s most decorated squads already, the national women’s rugby team have begun studying the Warriors’ success to better themselves.
“What [the Warriors] have done has been something pretty amazing – and if we can draw something out of the Warriors to get us motivated and get us going, we certainly will,” Black Ferns assistant coach Steve Jackson said.
The Ferns started training this week in Taupō ahead of their O’Reilly Cup test against Australia next week in Hamilton, followed by the inaugural WXV 1 tournament where they’ll host France, Wales and England. It’s the first time New Zealand will play at home since their Rugby World Cup win last November.
To begin preparations for what’s being considered a ‘mini World Cup’, the staff looked into the Warriors and what coach Andrew Webster’s done, specifically looking at how the Warriors approach games and their success this season.
“We’ve used one of the TV interviews, that [Webster] did as a bit of a motivation for this group here,” Jackson said. As a Broncos man – the Warriors’ opponents in the preliminary final – he conceded his rival team had been impressive.
The Warriors will facethe Broncos on Saturday for a spot in the NRL Grand Final. Earlier that day, the Black Ferns XV face Manusina XV. As well, the men’s Rugby World Cup is on in France.
“It’s pretty an exciting time for sport ... we really want to be at the front of all that when we play against Australia and then the WXV,” Jackson said.
“We’re pretty excited about the opportunity to get out there and do something great as well.”
Fellow assistant coach Mike Delany added they’ve “taken a few things around keeping our players accountable for our behaviours ... and really thriving on the [Warriors] success.”
The Black Ferns players say the Warriors 2023 campaign shows you can never underestimate a team.
“It’s just pretty cool that their past seasons have been a bit of a rollercoaster but they’ve just stunned everyone with their performance this year,” Hurricanes Poua loose forward Layla Sae said.
“Look how far they’ve come - New Zealand’s backing them all the way.
The Black Ferns play meet the Wallaroos on Saturday week before kicking off their WXV 1 series a month later.
Black Ferns fixtures
Black Ferns v France: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, Saturday, September 30, 4.35pm
Black Ferns v France: Sky Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, October 21, 7pm
Black Ferns v Wales: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday October 28, 4pm
Black Ferns v England: Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, Auckland, Saturday, November 4, 7pm