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Coach Jo Yapp names four debutants in Wallaroos side to play Fijiana

By Finn Morton
Biola Dawa of the Brumbies scores during the Super Rugby Women's Semi Final match between NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies at Allianz Stadium on April 19, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Australia coach Jo Yapp has named four debutants in the Wallaroos’ side ahead of their upcoming Test against Fiji at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

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The Wallaroos are looking to bounce back from a winless run in World Rugby’s Pacific Four Series when they run out in front of their home fans for the third time this season.

Coach Yapp has named Biola Dawa in the starting side for what will be the ACT Brumbies speedster’s Test debut. Allana Sikimeti, Lydia Kavoa and Natalie Wright and also in line for their first taste of Wallaroos rugby after being selected on the bench.

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This Australian outfit certainly packs a punch with Western Force and Wallaroos skipper Michaela Leonard set to pack down alongside the likes of Piper Duck, Kaitlan Leaney and Evan Karpani.

Karpani and Arabella McKenzie will both bring up milestone appearances when they represent Australia for the 25th time.

“It’s been nice to be back in Sydney and the players are working hard to put in a good performance against Fiji on Saturday,” coach Jo Yapp said in a statement.

“Our team has been building well and we are looking forward to seeing how they go.

“We have four debutants and I’d like to congratulate Allana, Biola, Lydia and Nat on selection ahead of their first Test caps, and Eva and Arabella on their pending milestones.

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“Maya Stewart and Ashley Marsters are both unavailable due to injury.”

Brianna Hoy, Tania Naden and Eva Karpani will pack down in the front row, while captain Michaela Leonard and Kaitlan Leaney will combine as the two locks.

Rounding out the forward pack is the formidable backrow trio of Atasi Lafai, openside flanker Leilani Nathan and 13-Test enforcer Piper Duck.

The experienced halves pairing of Layne Morgan and Arabella McKenzie will combine once again this weekend. McKenzie was a shining light for the Aussies last time out when they were beaten by arch-rivals New Zealand on Auckland’s North Shore.

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Cecila Smith and Georgia Friedrichs make up a familiar midfield, while the outside back trio consists of NSW Waratahs winger Desiree Miller, debutant Biola Dawa and experienced fullback Lori Cramer.

This Test is part of a double header with the Wallabies’ clash with Wales.

Fans of the Wallaroos can watch this clash, which is scheduled to get underway at 4:45 pm AEST, on Stan Sport.

Wallaroos team to take on Fijiana

  1. Brianna Hoy
  2. Tania Naden
  3. Eva Karpani
  4. Michaela Leonard (c)
  5. Kaitlan Leaney
  6. Atasi Lafai
  7. Leilani Nathan
  8. Piper Duck
  9. Layne Morgan
  10. Arabella McKenzie
  11. Desiree McKenzie
  12. Cecilia Smith
  13. Georgina Friedrichs
  14. Biola Dawa*
  15. Lori Cramer

Replacements

  1. Tiarna Molloy
  2. Allana Sikimeti*
  3. Bridie O’Gorman
  4. Siokapesi Palu
  5. Lydia Kavoa*
  6. Natalie Wright*
  7. Trilleen Pomare
  8. Faitala Moleka

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Tom 27 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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