Cramer ready to line up old teammates, coach in vital USA clash

Tue, May 14, 2024, 5:38 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Tania Naden rolls over for the Wallaroos first try of 2024

Wallaroos fullback Lori Cramer is eagerly awaiting the chance to face old coach Sione Fukofuka and a host of ex-team-mates in a crucial match with the USA.

Fukofuka served as attacking coach for the Wallaroos under Jay Tregonning before heading over to the States to take over the head coaching role.

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It gives the Americans a unique perspective in how to deal with Australia's electric outside backs as the Pacific Four heads to Melbourne.

“Sione has coached some of us since we were little kids so he’ll know us inside and out so it’s going to be a fun game," Cramer said.

“He’s either coached me or against me for the last ten years, likewise G-Fred (centre Georgina Friedrichs) and Cecilia (Smith, Reds centre), he’s been around for a long time. 

“He’s been a huge part of the growth over the last few years in Queensland and Australian Women’s Rugby so it’ll be really interesting to see what he says about us and breaks us down as a backline.

“Sione’s a very good coach who is very detailed and intelligent so I have no doubt that he will have all of the notes on us written down so I’m excited for the opportunity."

On top of this, Cramer has already circled some ex-Exeter teammates that she's hoping are named for Friday's match at AAMI Park.

“There’s a lot of them really," she explained.

“Kate Zachary, I know she’s played in the backline a lot when we were there so I’ve got my eye on her. I don’t know what she’s doing with her injury in the South Africa game but she’s someone that I’ve really learned a lot from and enjoyed playing with and against because she’s just an absolute legend of the game. I just enjoy being around her as a person and a Rugby player, she’s just unreal

“I’ve got her written in my little notes here because she’s so fast, smart and strong. I don’t know if she’ll play in the back row or the centres but I reckon she’ll be in the backs, you’ve heard here first. She can be put anywhere and she’ll play really well.

“I’ve got my eye on her and Gabby Cantorna, we’ve marked each other at training and I know she might give me a little bit of stick at the bottom of the ruck."

The match looms as almost a sudden-death shootout for WXV 1, with the top three from the Pac Four series qualifying for the top division in Canada.

In 2023, the Wallaroos parlayed a 58-17 win into a third-place finish in the inaugural WXV, whilst the Americans languished in fifth position in WXV 2.

"It’s huge because if we don’t win we’re not in WXV 1. We need to win games so every game is must win in our eyes," Cramer added.

“We want to be top three or four in the world and we played Canada who were four at the time and give or take a few critical areas and some more execution and then we’re in that game.

“I know there’s a lot of people talking right now that we’re still far behind (the top four_ but we’re not that far off.”

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