Australia captain Ali Brigginshaw has hit back at a stirring sledge after the Jillaroos were labelled "cocky" by a New Zealand rival following their World Cup Nines final last weekend.
Lighting a fuse ahead of their Test match in Wollongong on Friday night, Brigginshaw said she was shocked to learn Kiwi Ferns centre Jules Newman had taken aim at the Jillaroos following New Zealand's 17-15 victory in Sydney on Saturday.
Newman told NRL.com the Jillaroos were "cocky" at Bankwest Stadium and thought they had already won the game before kick-off.
In a spicy lead into the WIN Stadium clash, Brigginshaw said the comment had angered some of the younger members of the squad.
"To lose, devastating, but to be called cocky, it caught me by surprise," Brigginshaw said.
"There's always going to be a contest between us and the Kiwis, there's always going to be that fire in the game.
"It's brought some fire to some of the young girls, that's for sure. It's their first sledge that they've copped in that jersey.
"The girl who said it is new to the game and I'm not really sure where it has come from," Brigginshaw said.
"The girls are very humble, they're great athletes and they deserve to wear that jersey and I thought we performed well all carnival."
Newman has recently switched codes from rugby union.
Kiwi Ferns coach Justin Morgan said he believes the 'cocky' comment was taken out of context because it wasn't a 'stock standard' response, but agreed players should be encouraged to speak their mind.
"I think the most important thing is that there's no disrespect there, and I know from our group there's certainly no disrespect towards the opposition," he said.
"They go out there, they play hard, they train hard and a little bit of banter here and there helps sell newspapers and helps get them interested in the game.
"So many players give vanilla answers all the time, especially in the men's game with all this media training. As soon as something doesn't come out of that vanilla textbook everyone jumps on it."
STATS THAT MATTER
*The last time these two teams met in a Test match, the Jillaroos scored a 26-24 win after leading 12-4 at half-time.
*Kiwis skipper Honey Hireme, 38, was a standout with 216 running metres and 12 tacklebreaks.
*Dally M medallist Jessica Sergis comes into the game in hot form, averaging 125 running metres from the 2019 NRLW competition.
*Stats: Fox Sports
Australian Associated Press