Nine Wallaroos, a New Zealand international and a Jillaroos rugby league international have been named in the Queensland Reds' team to face RugbyWA in their season-opening Super W clash in Perth on Saturday.
The Reds have named an all-Wallaroo tight-five and will welcome captain Lori Cramer back after she missed last week's trial against Fijiana.
But coach Moana Virtue was forced to shuffle the line-up she was likely to be thinking about heading into the week with the news Kiwi recruit Hasting Leiataua has torn her ACL and will miss the Super W season.
Recruited as a flyhalf or inside centre, Leiataua shifted to fullback for the Reds' clash against Fijiana to cover for the absence of Cramer before falling awkwardly in a tackle and being assisted from the field in the first half.
Her absence has seen former RugbyWA back Courtney Hodder selected at fullback to face her old side, while rugby league international Zahara Temara - who played for the Reds in the first season of Super W before concentrating on league last year - will wear the no.10 jersey, partnering Ayane Hirata in the halves.
Hirate has beaten Cobie-Jane Morgan to a starting spot to make her first Super Rugby start.
Kiwi international Lavinia Gould, who played at flyhalf last season, will play at inside centre, filling the gap left by Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea who has joined the sevens program and will be joined by Alana Elisaia.
The Reds boast a wealth of experience in the forwards, with blindside flanker Shannon Mato joined by Natassja Purontakanen and Okeroa Manihera in the back row.
For Purontakanen, her debut has been a long time coming, after suffering an ACL injury just weeks before the 2019 season opener.
Virtue said: “We’ve put together a really strong squad for our first match of the competition.
“We have a mix of girls with plenty of experience at both state and international level, as well as newcomers who have performed well at club level and during pre-season," she said.
“The return of some of our backs from NRLW and Aussie 7s duties is timely, as the loss of Hastings is unfortunate. Thankfully we have some depth in the squad and have all been training together as a group since November last year.
“Rugby WA are coming off the back of a tough loss in ACT so they’ll be hungry for a win at home this weekend, we’ll have to be prepared for a hard match up in the west.”
The Reds take on Rugby WA in Perth on Saturday, February 22, kicking off at 7pm AEDT (4pm local) , LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo.
Reds to play RugbyWA
1. Liz Patu - Wests
2.. Averyl Mitchell - Souths
3.. Chistina Sekona - Sunnybank
4.. Kiri Lingman - Easts
5. Kirby Sefo - Bond University
6. Shannon Mato - Easts
7. Natassja Purontakanen* - University of Queensland
8. Okeroa Manihera* - Sunnybank
9. Ayane Hirata - Sunnybank
10. Zahara Temara - Helensvale Hogs
11. Lori Cramer (C) - University of Queensland
12. Lavinia Gould - Wests
13. Alana Elisaia - Brothers
14. Emily Bass – Bond University
15. Courtney Hodder** - Sunnybank
16. Ivy Kaleta - Easts
17. Toakase Filimoehala - Easts
18. Bree-Anna Cheatham - Wests/Australian Defence Force
19. Saxon Campbell - Souths
20. Lesa Kaleti Mataafa*** - Sunnybank
21. Cobie-Jane Morgan - Bond University
22. Maraea Tupai*** - Wests
23. Ivania Wong - Sunnybank
*Denotes Queensland and Super W debut
**Denotes Queensland debut
***Denotes potential Queensland and Super W debut