Wallaroos out to end 20-Test losing streak against Black Ferns
Queensland prop Bree-Anna Cheatham has been parachuted into the Wallaroos starting side, making her Test debut against New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Australian women will take on the Kiwis in a two-Test series, playing the second match in Adelaide on Saturday week, with the victors claiming the O’Reilly Cup.
The Wallaroos will look to end a 20-Test losing streak against the Black Ferns, most recently going down to their rivals 23-10 in the Pacific Four Series meeting in June.
Cheatham was part of that squad but didn’t take to the field after missing the entire Super W season due to injury.
However the hard-working loosehead forced her way into contention through state-based Wallaroos training and strong club form with Wests in Queensland Premier Rugby.
Brumbies No 8 Grace Kemp will make her starting debut in just her second Test match, after coming off the bench against Canada earlier this year.
Ivania Wong returns from a knee injury to start on the wing, and will be joined in the back three by Mahalia Murphy and Pauline Piliae-Rasabale.
Among the reserves, Waratahs centre Atasi Lafai, who was a Super W stand-out before sustaining a collarbone injury, will also make her return to Test rugby.
Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning said he was happy with the fitness of the players heading into the series.
“The team has come back into camp in better shape since our last campaign, showing that players have been putting in the hard yards in their respective states,” he said.
“We’re still building towards the World Cup, but we want to keep improving with every game and be competitive against the top teams in the world, which includes New Zealand.
“These two Test matches provide us with a great opportunity for further growth off the back of the Pacific Four campaign.”
Wallaroos: Pauline Piliae-Rasabale, Mahalia Murphy, Georgina Friedrichs, Cecilia Smith, Ivania Wong, Arabella McKenzie, Iliseva Batibasaga, Grace Kemp, Shannon Parry (c), Emily Chancellor, Kaitlan Leaney, Michaela Leonard, Bridie O’Gorman, Ashley Marsters, Bree-Anna Cheatham. Reserves: Adiana Talakai, Emily Robinson, Eva Karpani, Atasi Lafai, Piper Duck, Layne Morgan, Trilleen Pomare, Lori Cramer.
– Melissa Woods
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