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Wallaroos 'craving' World Cup atmosphere ahead of Black Ferns opener

Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The Wallaroos will begin their women’s rugby World Cup campaign against hosts New Zealand at a packed Eden Park, but it’s England who’ll start title favourites.


The Wallaroos have put the pressure back on the hosts as they prepare for a women’s rugby World Cup opener in front of 40,000 fans.

Australia will play defending champions New Zealand on Saturday at a packed Eden Park in Auckland.

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Sevens star Sharni Williams will make her 15-a-side return at inside centre for Jay Tregonning’s No.5 ranked team, while fellow 7s talent Bienne Terita has been retained on the wing after scoring a double on debut.

Sera Naiqama will make her first start in the backrow, with prop Bridie O’Gorman starting ahead of Eva Karpani in the only other change to their last Test line-up.

Ivania Wong will be a threat on the wing while Australia’s most-capped player Liz Patu will wear the No.1.

“Most of the pressure is on our hosts,” Tregonning said.

“The reality is that if you are playing international rugby at the highest level, this is the atmosphere and the pressure that you should be craving.


“What could be better than opening a rugby World Cup in front of a record-breaking crowd against the host nation?

“We want to use that energy to really inspire us, and feed our performance.”


New Zealand co-captain Ruahei Demant is pinching herself.

“I will probably feel emotions I have never felt before,” she said.

“You kind of dream of opportunities like this … but you never think it would happen.

“To be one of the lucky ones, the right time in our careers; the stars are aligned.

“I can’t describe it because I don’t even know what it is going to be like.”


The hosts have dominated women’s rugby for nearly 20 years but won’t start as favourites, with England’s Red Roses unbeaten in 23 games after taking top spot in 2020.

No.4 ranked France is also a leading contender, hardened by competition in Europe’s Six Nations tournament and boasting wins in the last four matches against New Zealand.

The World Cup comes at a pivotal time for women’s rugby, after concerted efforts to increase the investment of money and resources by World Rugby and national rugby unions.

The top two teams from each group of four – Australia will also play Wales and Scotland – progress to the quarter-finals before the Eden Park decider on November 12.

WALLAROOS: Pauline Piliae-Rasabale, Bienne Terita, Georgina Friedrichs, Sharni Williams, Ivania Wong, Arabella McKenzie, Iliseva Batibasaga, Grace Hamilton, Shannon Parry (c), Emily Chancellor, Atasi Lafai, Sera Naiqama, Bridie O’Gorman, Adiana Talakai, Liz Patu. Bench: Ashley Marsters, Emily Robinson, Eva Karpani, Michaela Leonard, Grace Kemp, Layne Morgan, Trilleen Pomare, Lori Cramer.


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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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