The first competitive step towards the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup starts next month, with the Wallaroos squad announced for two Tests against the Black Ferns.
The 28-woman squad for the two matches features 13 uncapped players and has been selected off the back of the inaugural Super W competition and months of state-based training.
Australia will take on New Zealand in a Bledisloe double header in Sydney for the first time on Saturday August 18 and it will be the first litmus test of a more streamlined women’s XVs pathway.
The Wallaroos played the Black Ferns ahead of the third Bledisloe Test in 2016 at Auckland’s Eden Park, going down 67-3 as part of a trans-Tasman tour, but the landscape has changed dramatically since then.
Fullback Samantha Treherne was one of a host of players who made her debut in 2017, just before the World Cup in Ireland and said already the preparation for 2021, a tournament Australia is bidding to host, felt ahead of its predecessor.
“We're starting so early,” she said.
“We're not starting a year out from World Cup and being like we need to take it more seriously.
“As soon as World Cup finished last year, they had assigned a new coach and a whole new program, put in a four-year plan put in, which is a huge thing for us.
“You feel like the more you play the more experience you get, the more exposure you get and I think if we're starting now, it'll make a huge difference coming into next World Cup with the new girls coming through.”
It’s no easy first-up clash for the squad, against the best in the world in the newly professional Black Ferns but Treherne is confident the Aussies will be ready to gel.
“When we go into camp we're already aware of what the plan is and what they want us to be doing and that's another huge thing for us,” she said.
“We'd never had that before - we'd always just gone into camp blindsided (as to) what the coach's expectations were of us or what their game plans were or our individual performances.
“This time around they have set everyone a clear idea of what they want and a whole structure of what they want, so when we go into camp we're not wasting time on learning new stuff we should've already been doing at training during the year.”
Physically the side will be tested but Treherne said the mental challenge, in front of two parochial crowds in Sydney and Auckland would be a massive test for the team, many of whom have never played in stadiums anywhere near the size of ANZ Stadium.
“Because it's at home in Australia, then it'll be at home in New Zealand so really and at Eden Park and at Sydney, you're kind of going to the two biggest places that you know the crowd will get behind whatever team they're there for,” she said.
“To be able to perform the way that we need to at a stadium packed with people, it's a huge thing that it's hard to explain or get your head around but I'm hoping the girls can pull through and block it out.”
The Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns on Saturday August 18 at ANZ Stadium. Buy tickets here.
Wallaroos to face New Zealand
Mhicca Carter*, Western Australia, Cottesloe
Emily Chancellor*, NSW, Sydney University
Rebecca Clough, Western Australia, Cottesloe
Georgia Cormick*, Melbourne Rebels, Power House
Melissa Fatu*, NSW, Parramatta
Kendra Fell*, Western Australia, Palmyra
Toa Filimoehala*, Queensland, Brothers
Fenella Hake, Queensland, Redlands
Grace Hamilton, NSW, Sydney University
Alisha Hewett, Queensland, GPS
Evelyn Horomia, NSW, Parramatta
Fi Jones*, NSW, Sydney University
Atasi Lafai*, NSW, Campbelltown
Kiri Lingman, Queensland, Sunnybank
Crystal Maguire*, NSW, Warringah
Michelle Milward, ACT, Tuggeranong Vikings
Cobie-Jane Morgan, NSW, Warringah
Mahalia Murphy, NSW, Campbelltown
Hana Ngaha, Queensland, Sunnybank
Georgia O’Neill*, ACT, Uni Norths
Shanice Parker*, NSW, Warringah
Liz Patu, Queensland, Wests
Trilleen Pomare, Western Australia, Kalamunda
Sarah Riordan, Queensland, ADFR, Wests
Emily Robinson, NSW, Warringah
Alice Tonumaivao*, Melbourne Rebels, Western Districts
Samantha Treherne, Queensland, Sunnybank
Darryl Wickliffe*, Western Australia, Kalamunda