Black Ferns center Amy du Plessis grateful for Conrad Smith’s guidance ahead of test debut

Pacific Four Series: Black ferns versus Canada. Where: Trust Arena, Auckland. When: Sunday, June 12, 2:45 PM. Live coverage: Spark Sport, live updates on stuff. Referee: Amber McLachlan (Australia).

Wayne Smith’s punching power has given testrokes like South African born Southlander Amy du Plessis the chance to be coached by legendary All Blacks center Conrad Smith.

While other All Blacks greats such as playmaker Dan Carter and iconic hooker Keven Mealamu have taken Black Ferns training in Auckland this week, Canterbury Center du Plessis has had the chance to work with Smith before her test debut against Canada on Sunday

Amy du Plessis played for Matatū in Super Rugby Aupiki in March and starts for the Black Ferns against Canada.

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Amy du Plessis played for Matatū in Super Rugby Aupiki in March and starts for the Black Ferns against Canada.

Du Plessis, whose family moved to Invercargill from South Africa at the age of seven because of her grandfather’s dairy farming in Lumsden, turned to the Black Ferns coaches, looking for a mentor before trying to crack the roster for the Rugby World Cup for ladies this year in New York. Zealand.

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New Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith recommended Conrad, who played 94 tests in the men’s game and won two World Cups in 2011 and 2015.

All Blacks great Conrad Smith has mentored Amy du Plessis.

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All Blacks great Conrad Smith has mentored Amy du Plessis.

“I have the immense privilege of having Conrad helping me. I actually spoke to him today with a little preview work,” du Plessis said Friday.

“He also said he would help judge my games. I’m so lucky and really privileged to have him help me.”

Wayne Smith also welcomed Carter and Mealamu to their camp to spend time with the kickers and hookers respectively.

It’s going to be a who’s who of Smith’s old All Blacks contacts – players and coaches – with Sir Graham Henry also with the Black Ferns in a coaching support role

“We also get a lot of support from the guys I coached,” Smith said.

“They are wonderful people, who have been the best in the world. It’s great to be able to use them.”

Amy du Plessis made two appearances for the Black Ferns in 2020, but neither of them were tests.

Evan Barnes/Getty Images

Amy du Plessis made two appearances for the Black Ferns in 2020, but neither of them were tests.

Du Plessis, the 22-year-old from Southland Girls’ High School whose family hails from Newcastle in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, has been on the national radar for some time now.

She played twice for the Black Ferns against the New Zealand Barbarians in 2020 and will get her first test opportunity against Canada in the Pacific Four Series, as will debutant Sylvia Brunt, an 18-year-old outside back from Auckland.

With a surname synonymous with South African rugby, the whole family will indeed travel to Auckland from the deep south. They have supported every step of her rugby journey.

“My heart just fell. It’s an absolute privilege and something I’ve been working on for a long time,” says du Plessis.

“I love New Zealand. It’s home now.”

Du Plessis left Invercargill for Christchurch last year to play for Canterbury, the champions of the Farah Palmer Cup between 2017 and 2020, after starting with Otago.

Amy du Plessis moved to Canterbury last year after starting with Otago in the Farah Palmer Cup.

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Amy du Plessis moved to Canterbury last year after starting with Otago in the Farah Palmer Cup.

That move seems to be paying off. She got a professional contract this season

“I was traveling [to Dunedin] every week, twice a week, for training. It was a two and a half hour drive there and back,” she said, admitting she lost a little love for the game because of the arduous journey.

“It was very taxing and to represent the Black Ferns I had to do more. Traveling like that I couldn’t recover properly.

“I wanted to move to a place where I could really aspire to be a Black Fern and Canterbury was a place I really wanted to go.

“I love it, the rugby is great, and it was a lifestyle change for me and my partner who is there as a builder.”

Du Plessis sits alongside captain Ruahei Demant in midfield, who Smith said was excellent in first and second five-eighths in Monday 23-10 win over Australia

Ruahei Demant will play alongside Amy du Plessis in midfield against Canada.

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Ruahei Demant will play alongside Amy du Plessis in midfield against Canada.

The coach said du Plessis would complement Demant well, with her good communication and ability to pierce through defense lines.

“Amy brings real fitness and grit. During training and competitions, her GPS readings are highest. She runs the furthest.

“They all get their chance. They just have to get it.”

AT A GLANCE

Black Ferns: Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Ruby Tui, Amy du Plessis, Ruahei Demant (c), Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Hazel Tubic, Kendra Cocksedge; Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Tafito Lafaele, Alana Bremner, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Tanya Kalounivale, Luka Connor, Phillipa Love. Reservations: Georgia Ponsonby, Angel Mulu, Amy Rule, Chelsea Bremner, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u/Kendra Reynolds, Ariana Bayler/Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt, Renee Wickliffe.

Canada: Elissa Alarie, Renee Gonzalez, Sara Kaljuvee, Alexandra Tessier, Paige Farries, Taylor Perry, Brianna Miller; Sophie de Goede (c), Sara Svoboda, Pamphinette Buisa, Courtney Holtkamp, ​​Tyson Beukeboom, Daleaka Menin, Emily Tuttosi, Olivia Demerchant. Reservations: Veronica Harrigan, Brittany Kassil, Maya Montiel, Abby Duguid, McKinley Hunt, Anaïs Holly, Maddy Grant, Alysha Corrigan.

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