has been added.

Cote News

Mererangi Paul's explosive performance Ignites Black Ferns season

Mererangi Paul's explosive performance Ignites Black Ferns season

All BlacksMay 15, 2024

Mererangi Paul (Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāti Awa) has scored 10 tries in six Tests for the Black Ferns.

On Saturday, Paul scored a hat trick in the 57-5 thumping of the USA in Hamilton to start the Pacific Four series. 

In 2023, she was a nominee for World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year after scoring seven tries in five Tests and helping the Black Ferns retain the Pacific Four title and Laurie O Reilly Trophy for Tests against Australia. 

“The spaces were opening up on the field and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Paul reflected upon her tries against the USA. 

“I pride myself on my positional play. The coaches have given the outside backs a lot of confidence to express ourselves and credit for that goes to the team.”

Paul scored three tries in 16 minutes as the Black Ferns made a rip-roaring start. 

“It was surreal we started so quickly. We struggled to maintain it. It was a good game to try things out. We’ve been working hard and there were a lot of positives and lessons.”

Paul’s third try regathering a chip and chase was spectacular but had the bounce of the ball been unfavourable she might have been labeled selfish with unmarked passing options available. 

“I would never have heard the end of it,” Paul laughed.

“I got through the hole, eyed up the fullback and thought why not take her on? When I reviewed the footage, I saw Ruby Tui was on the right of me. The pass would have been the easy option. Luckily I did get the bounce.


“Ruby asked me afterward did you hear me, but I was zoned into what I was thinking about in the moment.”

In the 41st minute, Paul could have scored a fourth try but generously handed the ball to Tui behind the goalposts.

“I was just trying to get it closer to the posts for the kick,” Paul said.

Paul made 16 carries, 131 run metres, four clean breaks, three offloads and made two try saving tackles in her incredible performance against USA.

The record for most tries by a Black Fern in a Test against the USA is six by Tammi Wilson in a 65-5 win in Palmerston North on October 19, 1999, Wilson’s 26th birthday. 

In 1998 Vanessa Coutts scored five tries against the USA in the Rugby World Cup final. Coutts scored a world record nine tries in a 109-0 win over France in 1996 but reflected the try she didn’t score was the most memorable.

"I busted from inside our half and had no one in front of me heading to the line. I remember hearing these trampling feet behind me and it was our halfback Kellie Kiwi right there behind me in support. She was hellbent on keeping up so about two metres from the line I passed her the ball to score a try and she dropped it!"

“Oh my gosh,” Paul responded when hearing the story of a risky pass over the try line. 

Achieving a balance between audacious attack and orthodox strategy is an area of improvement for the Black Ferns as is maintaining momentum for the entire eighty minutes. 

After leaping ahead 36-0 in the 26th minute it took the Black Ferns another 28 minutes to score any points.

“The USA threw more numbers to the breakdown and were more aggressive at the ruck,” Paul admitted. 

 “They were a lot more direct in their carries and they were able to break us in the middle of the park. Being in the backfield, I could see some gaps they were creating. We want to execute better at the ruck against Canada and prevent them from getting over the gain line.

“Canada is looking good. They had a good game against Australia taking it up through the middle of the park. They’re very strong in the forwards.” 

Canada has beaten the USA 50-7 and Australia 33-14. A win against the Black Ferns in Christchurch on Sunday will seal the Pacific 4 series. 

Paul will be hoping for a repeat of her two-try performance against Canada last year. The Black Ferns achieved their 100th Test win 52-21 in Ottawa. 

“I didn’t know the history of Canada, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was warned that they would be one of the harder games. It was nerve-wracking at times, but I felt we were well prepared.”

The Black Ferns have won all 17 Tests against Canada and both Tests in Christchurch against Australia 44-17 in 2017 and 52-5 in 2022.

*Freda Tafuna scored the only try for the USA on Saturday against the Black Ferns. She is the first American player to score in consecutive Tests against the Black Ferns after crossing in the 39-17 loss in Ottawa last year. 

Read Source