Weight of expectation to play into Wallaroos' hands

Womens Rugby World Cup
by Sam Phillips

The Wallaroos are ready.

Ready for their World Cup opener against Ireland in front of a sell out crowd, where the weight of expectation will sit firmly on the shoulders of the host nation.

An influx of talent and with that talent, experience, has coach Paul Verrell confident his team has what it takes to silence what is set to be a raucous crowd at UCD Bowl.

"Nine changes since the last Canada game but the Sevens players have come in, I think we have a good mix of youth and some older players that I think will challenge Ireland," Verrell said.

"Everyone is telling us it's going to be very loud, it's a sell out for the home nation.


"I'm just trying to get it into the girls heads that once the ball has been kicked off, it's just another game.

"We will do what we have prepared for, make sure we stick to how we are trying to play the game and just stay in the game for 80 minutes.

"All the pressure is on them - they're the home nation hosting the World Cup - if we're in front in the last 10 or 15 minutes all the pressure is on them and that's what we will be aiming to do."

Verrell is quietly confident his new look halves combination have what it takes to unleash an explosive centre pairing, in Kayla Sauvao and skipper Shannon Parry.

"They're looking really good, actually," he said.Trilleen Pomare will steer the ship from flyhalf. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel"Trilleen has fit in well and is starting to run the show well at No. 10.

"Cheech is linking with her very well and given enough possession and enough ball, you might see the backs on song."

Verrell also expects an immediate return to form for Mollie Gray, who will play her first Test since rupturing her ACL at the Brisbane Tens.

"She's done a heap of work and I think the players have picked up on that and it's bringing some good things to the team, as a whole," Verrell said.

"Once she gets on the field, first tackle, her confidence will be right up and she'll be right into the game."

The Wallaroos start their Rugby World Cup campaign on Thursday, August 10 against Ireland at UCD Bowl, kicking off at 4am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

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