Pressure Is On Kiwi Ferns: Sims
Jillaroos forward Ruan Sims believes the pressure is on New Zealand to deliver on their strong history in the game despite the Australian side holding dominance over their trans-Tasman rivals in 2017.
The Jillaroos are undefeated in four clashes this season against the Kiwi Ferns, but enter the Rugby League Women's World Cup in unfamiliar territory – as defending world champions.
Australia ended a 13-year drought to win their first Women's World Cup in 2013, delivering New Zealand their first ever defeat in the process with a 22-10 victory in the final at Headingly.
Sims is one of seven players from four years ago who remain in the squad and was adamant the Kiwi Ferns are the side to beat when games kick off from November 16 in Sydney.
"It will be a completely different feel," Sims said.
"We're on our home turf and not overseas. We will be more stable.
"I still think the weight of history is behind the Kiwis, their World Cup record speaks for itself.
"They're three [time champions] and we're one. This year will be the first time we're going in backing up a win off the previous [tournament]."
Sims has been around long enough to know the rising stature of the women's game has led to increased expectation for the Australian team, and says the experienced players in the team will ensure the pressure doesn't get to the squad's 16 debutants.
"I don't feel [the pressure] but then again I'm a lot older," Sims said.
"It might change the way the young girls feel, but I sincerely doubt that because we have a strong culture within the Jillaroos.
"We're very cognisant of all the external pressures that are starting to become factors and being thrown in our path constantly.
"We're trying to ensure we're giving the girls coping mechanisms to deal with that so it doesn't become an issue.
"I can understand there is a lot of interest surrounding the game which I think is fantastic and the more people we can get talking about it can only be a good thing."
The Jillaroos will sidestep New Zealand in the pool stages with clashes against England and the Cook Islands to start their campaign.
"We know a little bit about them," Sims said of the lesser-known nations.
"England can grind you out of a game if you switch off.
"It's important when we go into these games we don't rest on our laurels and we make sure we are doing all the small things correctly."
Canada was another side to be wary of, according to Sims.
"There are a lot of girls in the Canadian team that play in the sevens, so it will be very interesting," she said.
"Canada played a couple of games against a club team Corrimal from down the South Coast that went over recently.
"It was their first hit out and by all accounts it was a successful run for them. Mike Castle is their coach and no stranger to the NRL and what's needed at that level. He'll bring a lot of experience to their team."
This article first appeared on NRL.com