Super W: NSW roll out the big guns to take on Brumbies in season opener

Super W
by Iain Payten

They were unbeaten in the inaugural Super W competition but NSW's rivals have been warned: the defending champions are stronger in the second season and believe they can get better, too.

The NSW Waratahs side to take on the Brumbies in the Super W opener in Canberra on Saturday was named on Thursday and the sight of ten debutants was probably no solace for the Canberra women.

The sky blues will also field 12 current or former Wallaroos, including two of those on debut: star flanker Emily Chancellor and dual international fullback Mahalia Murphy.

"We are pretty happy with the team we have got together for round one," NSW coach Matt Evrard said.

"We still have a couple of players to come back but the squad we have got is strong, in that we have up to ten debutants potentially. Six of those in the starting line up,

"We have a lot of girls who didn’t get the chance to represent their state last year, one or two of those ended up representing their country. It’s a bit funny like that. But it was great, those girls did a lot of hard work in their off-season last year and are excited to represent their state."

"Before last Super W season, we didn’t have a great deal of Wallaroos in our squad. We had five or six. To have girls, up to 15 of them now who have represented their country, it is good to be able to share that load of leadership."

The NSW Waratahs side will be skippered by no.12 Ash Hewson, who famously kicked her team to a title in extra time in the final against Queensland.

Hewson retired from international rugby but was keen to keep playing in Super W, which Evrard believes will take a big step up in quality from the first season.

Last year most teams had short preparations but this season has seen lengthy pre-season campaigns, and will be boosted by the beefed-up Wallaroos calendar last year as well.

Ash Hewson and NSW celebrate her match-winning penalty. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We expect that but again we are trying to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. The girls had a long pre-season before Christmas, with 45 girls and that got cut down. We have had 30 girls training from the first of January, so they are pretty much year-round rugby players now," Evrard said.

"They don’t stop their conditioning and skill development so I would expect another jump up this year, as you would at Wallaroo level."

The big challenge for the NSW Waratahs side is to improve on an undefeated title in year one, but Evrard says his team are motivated to show how much better they can become.

"The biggest one for them as a playing group is they understand just how much better they can get. There is no pre-conceived ideas between the girls. They know how much improvement as a team and a team they can get," he said.

"That’s our biggest challenge at the moment. That’s what they’re determined to do."

BRUMBIES

A trio of Wallaroos will lead the Brumbies women in their Super W season-opener against champions NSW with Test lock Shellie Milward to lead the side into battle.

Milward, who represented Australia against the Black Ferns last year, will join fellow Wallaroos Georgia O'Neill and veteran Louise Burrows in a Brumbies side out to push the defending champions at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

The match is the first in a Saturday double-header in Canberra, ahead of the Brumbies-Cheifs Super Rugby clash.

Hooker Burrows, who starts her 23rd season with the ACT side on Saturday, will be joined in the front row by Anna Korovata and Peta Cox, who scored the Brumbies' first Super W try last season.

The Brumbies' Super W newcomer of the year last season, Michaela Leonard is at flanker along with O'Neill, with Tayla Stanford at No.8 and Emily Sogal joining Milward in the tight five.


Brumbies women's coach Adam Butt has named Jane Garraway and Carly Hill as his halves combination, while former Australian Sevens player Rachel Crothers is at fullback.

Last year's regular 15 Sammie Wood at inside centre, partnered by Michelle Perry in a strong midfield.

Brooke Gilroy and Ngawai Eyles - the partner of Brumby Wharenui Hawera and a former Canberra Giants netball star - complete a pacy backline.

The Brumbies women take on NSW women on Saturday, February 23 at GIO Stadium kicking off at 5:00pm AEDT, LIVE on Kayo Sports and RUGBY.com.au radio and replayed on FOX SPORTS.

TEAMS

NSW vs BRUMBIES

1 Emily Robinson

2 Tasmin Sheppard

3 Evelyn Horomia

4 Ana-Lise Sio

5 Sera Naiqama 

6 Alexandra Sulusi (vc)

7 Emily Chancellor 

8 Grace Hamilton (vc)

9 Iliseva Batibasaga

10 Chloe Leaupepe

11 Shanice Parker

12 Ashleigh Hewson ©

13 Katrina Barker

14 Maya Stewart

15 Mahalia Murphy 

RESERVES

16 Matalena Wilson 

17 Loretta Mailangi

18 Asoiva Karpani

19 Noella Green

20 Pareake O’Brien    

21 Arabella McKenzie

22 Crystal Maguire

23 Kirrily Laws

 

Brumbies vs NSW women

1. Anna KORAVATA

2. Louise BURROWS

3. Peta COX

4. Emily SOGAL

5. Shellie MILWARD (c)

6. Michaela LEONARD

7. Georgia O'NEILL

8. Tayla STANFORD

9. Jane GARRAWAY

10. Carly HILL

11. Brooke GILROY

12. Sammie WOOD

13. Michelle PERRY

14. Ngawai EYLES

15. Rachael CROTHERS

Reserves

16. Harriet ELLEMAN

17. Stefanie STEWART-JONES

18. Violeta TUPUOLA

19. Grace KEMP

20. Sharyn LAWS

21. Irene MACARTHUR

22. Remi WILTON

23. Claudia OBST