Riordan returns, Wallaroos full of belief ahead of Eden Park trip

Womens International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

UPDATE: The Wallaroos' belief is 'palpable' as they prepare for a trip to one of rugby's most intimidating fortresses.

Australia's women left for Auckland on Thursday ahead of Saturday's Eden Park clash with the Wallaroos.

The Aussies were felled in their Sydney opener, going down 31-11, but coach Dwayne Nestor said they had moved on quickly from that loss.

Nestor said his team had bounced back quickly from their opening Test loss and were embracing the New Zealand trip.

"The girls actually came out of that game and I thought they might have been a lot harder on themselves in terms of what they didn't do well," he said.

"They were actually quite surprising because they bounced back really quickly and they showed a lot of resilience which was really good and it's pleasing from our point of view because then we can get straight into the work for next week."

Eden Park has long been a graveyard for Australia's men's sides but Nestor said there was no such baggage for the women.

"I actually think our girls don't suffer from the stigma of Eden Park," he said.

"The history of Eden Park is wonderful but I don't think it sits in the mind of our girls to say it's a fortress that's unbeatable. The belief in the girls is palpable."

The return of vice-captain Sarah Riordan is a major boost for the team and the centre is the only change to the side in Auckland.

Riordan was a late withdrawal from the Wallaroos team in Sydney last week after rolling her ankle in training just three days out from the Test.

The centre has worked overtime to shake off that setback and the Queenslander will replace Crystal Maguire in the starting lineup.

"First off I thought it was a sprain and just something I could shake off within a day but once the scans came in it hit pretty hard," she said.

"Knowing that there was another opportunity being this weekend (my approach) was just (to) stick my head down and get in to do rehab.

"I tried to stay within the team as much as I could and still help lead the girls as much as I could coming from the sideline but the girls did well without myself out there.

"I'm just keen to get back out there this weekend."

Maguire shifts to the bench and Rebels back Alice Tonumaivao drops out of the 23 tor this second clash.

It is rare to see a relatively unchanged Wallaroos side but that is what Australia will take across the ditch after Riordan's return.

Nestor said that in itself should give the women confidence and the chance to build greater cohesion in the side.

"We sat down and when we looked at the selections we actually thought about that,": he said.

"We thought we need to start to build a core of the group and we will select based on form and what people do but it's really nice to be able to say, 'Okay, we're on the start of a journey now to 2021 (World Cup)'.

"We are able to start to build combinations and those combinations will develop over the next three years.

"That's comforting in the fact we've got that attitude and we've got that ability to do that. I think some of the combinations we can create in this team will be very powerful come 2021."

The Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns at Eden Park on Saturday August 25 kicking off at 3pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS. The Wallabies play the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe at 5:35pm AEST, 7:35pm local, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten, RADIO and Macquarie Sports Radio.


IN: Sarah Riordan

OUT: Alice Tonumaivao

Wallaroos to face the Black Ferns

1. Emily Robinson, NSW, Warringah, 6 caps

2. Liz Patu (C), Queensland, Wests, 18 caps

3. Evelyn Horomia, NSW, Parramatta, 4 caps

4. Michelle Milward, ACT, Tuggeranong, 8 caps

5.Rebecca Clough, Western Australia, Cottesloe, 19 caps

6. Emily  Chancellor, NSW, Sydney University, 1 cap

7.Georgia O'Neill, ACT, Uni Norths, 1 cap 

8. Grace Hamilton, NSW, Sydney University, 10 caps

9. Cobie-jane Morgan, NSW, Warringah, 18 caps

10. Trilleen Pomare, Western Australia, Kalamunda, 6 caps

11. Samantha Treherne, Queensland, Sunnybank, 9 caps 

12. Sarah Riordan, Queensland, Wests, ADRFU, 9 caps

13. Atasi Lafai, NSW, Campbelltown, 1 cap 

14. Mhicca Carter, Western Australia, Cottesloe, 1 cap

15. Mahalia Murphy, NSW, Campbelltown, 6 caps 


16. Darryl Wickliffe, Western Australia, Kalamunda, 1 cap

17.Melissa Fatu, NSW, Parramatta, 1 cap

18. Hana Ngaha, Queensland, Sunnybank, 10 caps

19. Alisha Hewett, Queensland, GPS, 17 caps

20. Kiri Lingman , Queensland, Sunnybank, 4 caps

21. Fenella Hake, Queensland, Redlands, 9 caps

22. Crystal Maguire, NSW, Warringah, 1 cap

23 Shanice Parker, NSW, Warringah, 1 cap