One Percenters: Wallaroos to play world's top 5 teams in 2021, trans-Tasman relations thaw

Rugbycomau
by Beth Newman and Emma Greenwood

The Wallaroos will get a boosted Test schedule, trans-Tasman relations were chilled and Liam Wright got a first cap he'll never forget.

It's all in One Percenters.

Major boost to Wallaroos fixture list

The Wallaroos will play the top five rugby nations in the world next year in an outstanding preparation for the women's World Cup in 2021.

The arrival of England and France on our shores next November, on their way back from a tour of New Zealand, will be the cherry on top of a new annual tournament involving the US, Canada, Australia and the Black Ferns.

That annual four nations tournament is set to propel the Wallabies from a team full of part-time players with potential, to a competitive unit regularly playing the best nations in the world.

Wallaroos coach Dwayne Nestor paid tribute to the work of Rugby Australia's head of women's rugby  Jilly Collins in expanding the opportunities for the women, who have had little regular exposure to the top teams in the past.

"Jilly Collins has done a fantastic job of getting that schedule in place," Nestor said.

"An opportunity for us to play the best teams in the world is only going to make us better."

The Wallaroos had their biggest Test schedule outside a World Cup season this year, with a two-Test series against Japan at home, before a pair of matches against the Black Ferns.

But their losses to the world no.1 - even in an improved performance in a 37-8 loss at Eden Park on Saturday - showed they need regular exposure to the best teams in the world if they are to be competitive at the World Cup.

All Wright on the night

It's not the result he would have wanted in his debut but there was not even the 36-0 loss to the all Blacks could wipe the grin from Liam Wright's face as he left Eden Park with his Wallabies cap on.

Wright made his debut from the bench to play the final quarter of the match when he was brought into the game for fellow reds backrower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who, like most players, failed to have the impact he did in the Perth win over New Zealand.


With the Wallabies well and truly on the back foot when he took the ground, it was tough for Wright to make an impact but he let no one down in his stint and is likely to have done enough to book his place on the plane to Japan for the World Cup.

Wright received his cap from Rugby Australia president Tim Gavin after the match, with his parents Lee and Glynn on hand to watch him play.

Ollie’s selfless gesture

After suffering a scary spinal injury last year playing for Toowoomba Grammar, Ollie Bierhoff could be excused for focusing all his energy on his recovery and rehabilitation.

Thankfully, after fears he may never walk again, that recovery is going well for Ollie, who is now walking again and even helping out the rugby teams at St Alberts in Armidale.

But in a brilliant gesture, Ollie diverted his attention last month to giving back to the local community in Rowena, the small country town in north-west NSW that the Bierhoffs call home.

Ollie raffled off a signed Wallabies jersey to raise funds for the Rowena Primary and Preschool, which like everything and everyone in the bush right now, is feeling the financial pinch of the drought, due to a lack of students.

Ollie’s fundraising raised an extremely valuable $7150 for the schools.

Good onya Ollie. 

Best of Trans-Tasman Enemies

The Wallabies and All Blacks are ferocious rivals on the field - and many have painted them as the same off it.

But there were no signs of that at Eden Park on Saturday night once the hostilities of the Bledisloe Cup encounter were over.

After absorbing the disappointment of their 36-0 loss to the Kiwis, the Wallabies headed into their rivals' sheds for a chat and a feed, with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen blaming their presence for the major delay in his team's post-match media conference.

It's a turnaround for the teams, who feed off their great rivalry during the season and will do so again in Japan if their paths cross at the World Cup.

Hansen has also made an art of baiting Wallabies coach Michael Cheika over the years, including calling the Australian mentor "Mickey Mouse" but told Fox Sports after the match if the All Blacks can't lift the Webb Ellis Cup he'd like to see the Wallabies to it.

Parling on an African adventure

Former England lock and Rebels forwards coach Geoff Parling was on hand to lend some valuable coaching tips to the Malawi Leopards in Africa last week.


Parling made sure the Leopards looked the part with some Rebels training gear but there's just one problem: they're a sevens team.

We're tipping Parling's scrum and rolling maul expertise wouldn't have been the first priority at training.

Jordan’s jumpy mate

The job of the youngest Wallaby on tour is to make sure “Wally”, the team mascot, never gets lost. Or stolen.

So imagine Jordan Petaia’s anxiety when the stuffed toy got lost at Melbourne Airport last week.

Then imagine his relief/embarrassment when the Air New Zealand flight attendant who found it announced the discovering of Wally and then walked down the aisle holding him aloft for Petaia to retrieve.

The entire plane – Kiwi travellers and Wallabies teammates combined - to give Petaia a large amount of grief.