Okay, first things first, it’s not the ‘Bledisloe W’ or the ‘Ladies Bledisloe’. The two test match series between the Australian Wallaroos and the New Zealand Black Ferns is for the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy. The trophy named after O’Reilly, a New Zealand rugby player who was instrumental in bringing women’s rugby into the light. The first test will be played this Saturday; game one in the double header with the Bledisloe at Perth’s Optus Stadium.
This is the 2nd year the Wallaroos and Black Ferns have played the 2 match series as double headers and the teams will both be ready for the big stage occasion. The teams have been preparing for this series since April this year. The Wallaroos have just come off a very successful 2 match series against Japan, with games in Newcastle and Sydney and the Black Ferns were involved in the Super Series in San Diego. The Super Series was a round robin tournament involving the top 5 teams in the world, New Zealand, England, France, USA and Canada.
Both teams were tested, with the Wallaroos first match getting off to a nervous start with handling and kicking errors in the windy conditions before righting the ship and putting in some very slick passages of play. Meanwhile the Black Ferns have competed against some very formidable opponents in the Super Series with some tight matches and a loss to France. Both sides will be better for the game time and chance to iron out some kinks which means we should be in for a great opening game this Saturday afternoon.
The Australians have used the series against Japan to field new recruits with 9 debutants in the test match alone. The tests also allowed players to make their case to the coach and it has paid off. Wallaroos coach Dwayne Nestor has been able to make changes based on form and performance, something he was unable to do prior to last years Laurie O’Reilly matches. Examples include Liz Patu who makes her return to the starting side and half back Georgia Cormick making her run on debut both after solid performances against Japan.
The previous Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy games have been 1 sided affairs with New Zealand winning every encounter to date. However, the noises coming out of the Wallaroos camps is positive and quietly showing the confidence and belief that they can their first test match against the New Zealanders. This can only have been helped by the fact that the Wallaroos have been given the best chance in years to win the trophy.
The test series against Japan, more time together as a team and the experience and confidence coming out of the 2nd year of the domestic Super W tournament are all building blocks giving this team the chance to show us what they are capable of now and heading into the 2021 World Cup. That is why this Saturday’s test is a very exciting prospect and will be very interesting to see the results of the work both these teams have put into the lead up to this series. The Black Ferns have been perfecting their craft against the best in the world but the Wallaroos have been quietly closing the gap and it should result in a cracking game of footy.
1.Liz Patu, Wests, 2. Averyl Mitchell, 3. Evelyn Horomia, 4. Michaela Leonard, 5. Alisha Hewett, 6. Millie Boyle, 7. Emily Chancellor, 8. Grace Hamilton [C], 9. Georgia Cormick, 10. Trilleen Pomare, 11. Lori Cramer, 12. Ariana Hira Herangi, 13. Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, 14. Samantha Treherne, 15. Mahalia Murphy
16. Ash Marsters, 17. Emily Robinson, 18. Christina Sekona, 19. Rebecca Clough, 20. Shannon Mato, 21. Iliseva Batibasaga, 22. Arabella McKenzie, 23. Mhicca Carter
1. Toka Natua, 2. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 3. Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, 4. Eloise Blackwell, 5. Charmaine Smith, 6. Pia Tapsell, 7. Les Elder [C], 8. Charmaine McMenamin, 9. Kendra Cocksedge, 10. Ruahei Demant, 11. Ayesha Leti-I’iga, 12. Chelsea Alley, 13. Carla Hohepa, 14. Renee Wickliffe, 15. Selica Winiata
16. Forne Burkin, 17. Leilani Perese, 18. Olivia Ward-Duin*,19. Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20. Kennedy Simon, 21. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, 22. Krysten Cottrell, 23. Kilisitina Moata’ane*
Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant Referee: Amy Perrett & Amber Mclachlan (Australia)
The match between the Buildcorp Wallaroos and the Black Ferns will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and RUGBY.com.au Radio.
Match kick off: 3pm local time / 5pm East Coast Elite Time.