It’s the re-match of last year’s gripping Super W final, and such is the importance of the result, it could go a long way to deciding who wins the second Super W final a month before it is even played.
The Super W grudge match between the Waratahs women’s side and Queensland’s women’s side will be held on Sunday at Leichhardt Oval and, as usual, there will be no shortage of meaning.
With their age-old interstate rivalry now played under the Super W banner, the clash will likely determine who tops the competition ladder at the end of the five-week regular season and, therefore, earn the right to host the Super W final.
Though this year’s Super W competition has added a second v third playoff to determine who faces the minor premier in the final, it’s highly likely that the two powerhouses NSW and Queensland will ultimately face off in the decider.
Who gets the advantage of hosting the final is played is the big question, however.
A round one victory by NSW over Queensland last year gave them a home final in Sydney - and helped them secure the inaugural title in an extra-time thriller.
And the Waratahs are looking at Sunday’s showdown at Leichhardt Oval as another as another high-stakes fixture.
"It is a cut throat competition, you lose a game and that will cost you a home final, that’s pretty much how it works,” Waratahs coach Matt Evrard said.
"The teams know how the structure of the comp has changed and that means you will be playing an extra week or you get a bye week.
“We all know that it could either be a curse or a hindrance so you're either going to take a bye week and go into a grand final or you're going to play a second or third game potentially at a home venue where you can build momentum.
"They’re certainly not stressed about that period going into finals time, they're going to get opportunities either way.”
The Super W is already a sprint of a competition but making life tough for the Waratahs is that they stopped running last weekend, with the bye in round two.
After their 112-0 smashing of the Rebels, Queensland ground out a hard-fought win over WA in the second week and will have the benefit of momentum.
But Evrard said he wasn’t overly concerned about having to pick up where they left off with a 26-0 win over the Brumbies.
"Especially in a short competition it's hard to get a kick start again but we didn't waste last weekend, we had a bit of a team bonding session last weekend and went and did some high rope climbing courses and that sort of stuff is fun to bond the group together and enjoy their time outside of footy,” he said.
"They really enjoyed that and it just means they are fresh to go this weekend, we’re pretty much injury free coming into this week which is good.
"The girls get really excited for Queensland, but most NSW teams, whenever that rivalry comes up, it always adds a bit more to training.
"We had a jersey presentation and had a few old girls come back and present those jerseys and talk about those battles with Queensland and so it’s never a hard week to get players up for a big game.
"They’re all really excited for this weekend and I can’t wait to see, it’s going to be a great game."
Queensland will be without Wallaroos prop Liz Patu after she was suspended six matches for biting.
Evrard said it will obviously force Queensland to make big adjustments but won’t impact his planning.
"It changes the picture a lot more obviously for Queensland than it does for us ... she runs their scrums and lineouts so they're going to have to have a few changes they make this week,” he said.
"That being said for us it doesn’t really change a lot, we plan around a team’s actions, around set pieces more than one individual. We’ve got our plans ready to go around scrums and lineouts on the weekend and the forwards are ready to take it on.”
The Waratahs’ squad strength was made clear again by the fact they’ve welcomed back Wallaroos Fi Jones and Kennedy Cherrington from injury, and despite losing star Mahalia Murphy to sevens duties, another Australian representative Crystal Maguire will step up into the centres.
Skipper Ash Hewson will push back from centre to fullback.
“It's great to be able to bring a Wallaroos into the starting lineup with Crystal we’re not going to lose too much then and Crystal is really excited for all her opportunity and I can’t wait to see her run outside on the weekend,” Evrard said.
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 Katrina Barker
13 Crystal Maguire
14 Maya Stewart
15 Ashleigh Hewson (c)
16 Melissa Fatu
17 Loretta Mailangi
18 Asoiva Karpani
19 Noella Green
20 Fi Jones
21 Arabella McKenzie
22 Kennedy Cherrington
23 Kirrily Laws