Wallaroos 'want' to break record

Published 6:00pm 28 June 2023

Wallaroos 'want' to break record
Words by Nick Crockford

The Wallaroos, Australia’s international women’s rugby team, have broken one record and are aiming to smash a second at Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe, tomorrow.

Pre-match ticket sales for the trans-Tasman clash with New Zealand's world champion Black Ferns are already a record for a standalone Wallaroos match.

Click here for tickets via Ticketek. Tickets will also be available at the stadium tomorrow.

There's also a growing belief the Wallaroos can beat the Black Ferns for the first time in 23 O'Reilly Cup clashes stretching back 29 years.

The Wallaroos have three stars – Arabella McKenzie, Emily Chancellor and Kaitlan Leaney – back to boost their squad after the UK Premier 15 series.

Meanwhile, the Black Ferns have 10 players unavailable from last year’s World Cup-winning team and have named six debutants for tomorrow’s clash, kick-off 7pm.

Captain Michaela Leonard said the squad was feeling "really good" after beating Fiji last month and the returning trio has injected "great energy and knowledge".

Wallaroos 'want' to break record

"Finished our Captain's run tonight with a really good execution session," the lock forward said. "Everyone's ready to come out and do the real thing tomorrow night.

"There's been a big focus on 'want'. There's no doubting the ability and skill level in this group, we are definitely capable of achieving the win.

"Whoever comes out tomorrow 'wanting' it more is going to get the win," she said, joking: "It's a simple game for simple minds!"

Leonard said Kayo Stadium was "beautiful" and the playing surface "unbelievable". "Playing test matches at home is an incredible experience," she said.

"This is a beautiful stadium. It will be exciting to hear the (record) crowd nice and loud ... and even more exciting after the game with a win on our backs!"

Flanker Emily Chancellor, who starred for Harlequins in the Premier 15s, added: “Everyone in the squad is eager to get involved.

Wallaroos picture gallery

"We really want to focus on taking this opportunity. This is our opportunity, let’s go out and take it.”

The closest the Wallaroos have come to beating the Black Ferns is a six-point defeat, though the margin was only eight points earlier this year.

That encounter saw a close first half, before the New Zealanders pulled away. Since then, the Wallaroos have impressed in a 22-5 defeat of Fiji in Sydney last month.

“We have a few things we have to look at in terms of New Zealand,” Wallaroos Assistant Coach Scott Fava said.

“One is they’ve got a new coach (Alan Bunting), which will bring about new systems (and) a new way of playing.

“But we’re just concentrating on ourselves. Not so much worrying about what they (Black Ferns) are doing and how they are doing it.

Wallaroos 'want' to break record
The Wallaroos at Tullawong State High School last week for a traditional welcome to Gubbi Gubbi land

“Making sure we pay attention to what we put into Fiji, technical aspects of attack and defence, tackle contest, set piece ... and bring that to a new level.”

Tomorrow’s trans-Tasman blockbuster at Kayo Stadium will be the Wallaroos’ second game of the Pacific 4 Series.

They opened with victory over Fijiana and next month face USA (July 9) and Canada (July 15) - both games at TD Place Stadium, Ottawa, Canada.

AUSTRALIA: Faitala Moleka, Maya Stewart, Georgina Friedrichs, Cecilia Smith, Ivania Wong, Carys Dallinger, Layne Morgan, Grace Hamilton, Ashley Marsters, Kaitlan Leaney, Annabelle Codey, Michaela Leonard (capt), Eva Karpani, Tania Naden, Bree-Anna Cheatham. Replacements: Madison Schuck, Emily Robinson, Bridie O'Gorman, Sera Naiqama, Emily Chancellor, Jasmin Huriwai, Arabella McKenzie, Alana Elisaia.

NEW ZEALAND: Renee Holmes, Mererangi Paul, Amy du Plessis, Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai'i (Sylvia) Brunt, Katelyn Vahaakolo, Ruahei Demant (co-capt), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, Kennedy Simon (co-capt), Alana Bremner, Chelsea Bremner, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Tanya Kalounivale, Georgia Ponsonby, Kate Henwood. Replacements: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Amy Rule, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kendra Reynolds, Iritana Hohaia, Rosie Kelly, Tenika Willison.

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