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Piper Duck ruled out as Wallaroos name squad for WXV 1

By AAP
(Photo by Greg Bowker/Getty Images)

Michaela Leonard will lead the Wallaroos on a four-Test tour of New Zealand while regular captain Piper Duck recovers from ankle surgery.

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Coach Jay Tregonning named a 30-player squad on Tuesday with 18-cap Western Force forward Leonard at the helm and four players eyeing debuts.

Melanie Wilks, Brianna Hoy, Desiree Miller and Leilani Nathan could all win their first caps in the Laurie O’Reilly Cup return leg against New Zealand on September 30.

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The side will then complete their season with Tests against England, France and Wales in the WXV1 tournament across New Zealand from October 20.

Lock Atasi Lafai will also return from a serious ankle injury suffered at last year’s World Cup.

“We are excited to get back out there and to continue to test ourselves against the best teams in the world,” Tregonning said.

“The squad remains largely the same from the Pacific Four Series as we look to continue to build combinations and Test experience.

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“I am particularly happy for Atasi Lafai; she had a tough break with her injury at the World Cup last year.

“The grit and determination that she has shown during what has been a long rehab journey for her this year has been a testament to her character.”

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Australia’s women have beaten Fiji and USA but suffered heavy losses to Canada and New Zealand in four Tests played this year.

The Wallaroos will train at the new Ballymore National Rugby Training Centre from Friday before departing on September 27.

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WALLAROOS FIXTURES

v Black Ferns, Saturday September 30, FMG Stadium, Waikato
v England, Friday October 20, at Sky Stadium, Wellington
v France, Saturday October 28, at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
v Wales, Friday November 3, Go Media Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

WALLAROOS SQUAD
Emily Chancellor, Bree-Anna Cheatham, Annabelle Codey, Brianna Hoy, Eva Karpani, Atasi Lafai, Kaitlan Leaney, Michaela Leonard (c), Ashley Marsters, Tania Naden, Sera Naiqama, Leilani Nathan, Bridie O’Gorman, Emily Robinson, Adiana Talakai, Tabua Tuinakauvadra, Lori Cramer, Carys Dallinger, Georgina Friedrichs, Jasmin Huriwai, Arabella McKenzie, Desiree Miller, Faitala Moleka, Layne Morgan, Trilleen Pomare, Cecilia Smith, Maya Stewart, Melanie Wilks, Ivania Wong, Siokapesi Palu.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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