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Wallaroos coach confident in rookie wing as they look to bank a vital World Cup win

By AAP
The Wallaroos celebrate a try against the Black Ferns. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Coach Jay Tregonning doesn’t see rookie Maya Stewart as a selection gamble as the Wallaroos look to bank a vital World Cup win over Scotland in¬†Whangarei on Saturday.

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The Australians are looking to bounce back from an opening 41-17 loss to hosts New Zealand and continue their dominance over the Scots.

The countries have met twice previously at the World Cup with the Wallaroos winning both matches.

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Scotland also suffered defeat in their first pool game, falling 18-15 to Wales.

They have kept a largely settled side as has Tregonning, with prop Eva Karpani and fullback Lori Cramer the new faces in the Australian line-up along with winger Stewart, who replaces Ivania Wong.

Stewart only resumed training in July after ACL surgery seven months earlier but the coach said the 22-year-old debutantes’ form couldn’t be ignored.

“Obviously Maya has had a long recovery journey but she was a stand-out player in Super W over the last couple of years,” Tregonning told reporters.

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“Throughout the last couple of campaigns where she has travelled with us she’s shown what an athlete she is and her capabilities.

“The last two weeks in training where she has been in full contact has earnt her a start.

“Those¬†performances in that environment gives us confidence she’ll be ready to go.”

Stewart said she got “emotional” when she received news of her start, with her family rushing over from Australia to watch her play.

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“I definitely shed a few tears with the girls – super excited,” the Waratahs flyer said.

“It was just about knuckling down at the start, getting the surgery done quickly and then setting that end goal.

“I’ve worked really hard and the team have gotten around me … it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time so to achieve it is amazing.”

Skipper Shannon Parry said the team had taken plenty from the loss to the Kiwis, particularly after storming to a 17-0 lead before being reeled back in.

“We learnt a lot about our belief and the capability we’ve got as a squad,” Parry said on Friday.

“This week it’s about whatever it takes – obviously the World Cup is still alive so for us it’s about putting in a full 80 minute performance.

“We’re very much prepared for this weekend.”

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