Wallaroos did their country proud: Verrell

Womens Rugby World Cup
by Sam Phillips

Wallaroos coach Paul Verrell says his side "did their country proud" in this morning's Women's World Cup opener, a 19-17 loss to Ireland.

Verrell spoke with pride post match, pointing out areas where his side excelled, contrary to expectation.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game, playing the host nation," he said.

"I thought we prepared well and we were well and truly in the game.

"I couldn't ask much more from my team, they did their country proud and the Wallaroos jersey proud.

"The team took everything that we asked them to do, played our structures, defence was sensational, everyone thought we would struggle in the scrum, we competed and put them under pressure.

"We set ourselves up to win the game but the luck of the bounce went the Irish way."

Tighthead prop Hilisha Samoa was crowned Players' Player post match and that was fitting.

The 35-year-old was enormous at scrum time, barged her way over for a try and put in a willing defensive effort.

It was Samoa and skipper Shannon Parry that led the team all afternoon and post match, Samoa reflected on the "special moment".Hilisha Samoa was instrumental in the Wallaroos performance. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel"It's a very special moment," she said.

"You're here with your teammates, cheering you on and it just feels like I've done what I'm supposed to do and do my role.

"To be able to be recognised by teammates and the coaches, it makes it all worthwhile.

"It makes me want to do it again, for them."

Attention now turns to a must win clash with France, who easily accounted for Japan in their first pool match.

The French are ranked fourth in the world - one spot higher than Ireland - so Verrell is expecting a similarly fierce contest.Verrell is expecting another physical battle against France. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel"I think they'll come hard at us," he said.

"I think the Irish, to a point, probably underestimated us.

"I think France now will come hard at us and we just have to hang in there.

"We know we can compete at this level.

"We made a few mistakes out there tonight.

"We will improve that, look at our video and everything, tighten up a few areas and we will be right in the game."

The Wallaroos take on France on Monday morning, kicking off at 4:45am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.