Wallaroos bringing plenty of belief into Black Ferns series

Womens International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

When the Wallaroos walked away from last year’s two Tests against New Zealand, they took with them renewed belief, according to stalwart Shellie Milward.

Australia lost both the matches against the world no. 1s - a 31-11 defeat in Sydney and a 45-17 loss in Auckland - but Milward said they felt they took important strides.

The second rower, who has returned to the Wallaroos squad after a back injury, said they felt they could improve on that again when they take on New Zealand in Perth in a week’s time.

“I don't go out there, and I don't think anyone in our team goes out there, to reduce the scoreline or just to make it a close game, we go out there with the intention of winning,” she said.

“Especially after the last two Tests last year, I fully believe that we can.

“The first Test against them last year, they really brought it to us forwards, they were quite dominant.

“They stamped their authority in their lineouts and their rolling mauls and things like that but we were, in the second Test, able to adapt and give it back to them then.

“I came away learning from that - we didn't have the win but we believe we definitely can beat them.

“I think the mentality side of things, we've won a little battle there and I hope we can take it to them.”

The Wallaroos will take some tempered confidence into the series after two comfortable wins over Japan in Australia last month.

Australia’s forward pack steamrolled the Japanese outfit but Milward said they couldn’t expect to do the same against the Black Ferns.

“They're renowned for their physicality so I have no doubt that they'll bring it to us in these next two Tests,” she said.

“We're going to have to step it up another notch for the forwards there.

“I think the Japan series we were quite dominant in the forwards and that gave us good go forward or the backs and converted on the scoreboard.”

Having two warm-up Tests heading into the trans-Tasman clashes was a rare luxury for the Wallaroos but Milward said keeping some consistency in selections from year to year was handy.

“I think one thing I hope from last year was to keep a core group of girls together leading into this year and the coaches have done well doing that,” she said.

“We've brought in some new faces that are extremely talented as well but I think we kept a lot of the group from last year which was a great feel, great atmosphere within the team and extremely talented players.

“To be playing with them again this year, hopefully we can build on last year and come away with a win this time.

Milward had to watch from the sidelines as the Wallaroos took out those two Tests, still recovering from a back injury suffered in Super W but the Brumbies forward is raring to return to the international stage.

The Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns in the first match of a double header at Optus Stadium Perth on Saturday August 10, kicking off at 3pm local, 5pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. The Wallabies take on New Zealand at 5:45pm local, 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on Network Ten, FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.