Changed women's game demands Cup excellence

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Lynn McConnell     10 Jul 2018     Getty Images

New Zealand women's coach Allan Bunting said the game now was so much stronger and faster than when the Black Ferns claimed the world title in Moscow in 2013.
Playing for longer was very important and the Commonwealth Games had reflected that requirement.

It had been the hardest squad to pick since he had been involved in the programme. The competition was hot for places and the players had been 'beating each other up on the field' for the last few weeks.

It had been difficult to tell players they had missed out, but the competition had helped in the choosing of the side.

The trials process had not only been about selecting the side, but also preparing for the World Cup.

"It was about mental preparation and preparing and taking control of games early. It's a knockout so it's about momentum and how you grab that really quickly and then if you don't have how you grab that back, so that was a big part of our trial games also and also about giving players the opportunity to put their hand up and be selected," he said.

The Commonwealth Games had been a key event earlier in the season but the World Cup was the pinnacle now at the end of the season.

"For us and our management it is exciting to see our players come in and be energetic, and motivated and get pbs [personal bests] in some of their physical stuff but then go and play some really good sevens and compete against each other. It's really exciting but I know the players ain't finished yet.

"There's one more job and they're so excited about going to San Francisco and the Giants stadium next to the sea. I went there last year and it's an amazing place. They want to go over and leave mana there and they're really excited about it," he said.

The changed knockout nature of the event would also have an impact. One loss and you were out in a tournament that would involve less games than during a normal tournament during the world sevens series.

"We've been preparing for that. And if you don't win and you draw you've got to play extra time so we're preparing for that also. It's about momentum and if the ball doesn't bounce your way how do you get that back?"

Teams had 14 minutes to get their wins and if they lost momentum then it was a collective effort to regain it in the time left.

"Seven players together are so much stronger than one or two players together so it's something we've been working on hard. Sevens is ruthless, so if it doesn't go your way you've got to get it back. And if it does go your way you've got to run away with it,' he said.