2 days ago
New Zealand v Australia: women's test preview
After a successful first ever NRLW season, the top two sides in the world will engage in a Trans-Tasman battle where the best in the women's game face off.
The match between the Kiwi Ferns and the Jillaroos is the first time the two sides have battled in a full international on New Zealand soil since 2009.
The Jillaroos come into the game with a new-look squad after the NRLW season, with Aussie coach Brad Donald rewarding those who performed well during the four-week tournament. Australia have added six new faces to the 18-player lineup with Julia Robinson, Jess Sergis, Holli Wheeler, Keeley Davis, Tazmin Gray & Hannah Southwell all named for their test debuts.
The key aspect for the Australians will be how the new faces in the side come together, and how they can click in attack under the new halves pairing of Ali Brigginshaw and Zahara Temara come together in attack. The Jillaroos haven't played an international clash since their World Cup final victory over the Kiwi Ferns last October, but have won their last five internationals including their clean sweep at the World Cup - as well as an early season test match against the Kiwi Ferns in Canberra last May.
Meanwhile, the success of the NRLW has spread to the Kiwi Ferns side, who themselves have made five changes of their own since the World Cup Final loss last year. New Zealand were the dominant force in the international sphere however they have been challenged at the top of the rankings in recent years, and ultimately surpassed by the Jillaroos.
The five new Kiwi Ferns faces added to the side includes three debutants. Key Warriors players Onjeurlina Leiataua and Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa-Pauaraisa are set to debut alongside Brisbane's Lavinia Gould who has been called into the squad. New Zealand's side takes significantly from all four of the NRLW sides with the Warriors naturally dominating, but there are also seven premiership-winning Broncos in the squad including Karyn Murphy medal winner Kimiora Nati in the halves.
Last meeting: World Cup 2017, Final - Australia 23 New Zealand 16, Suncorp Stadium
Who to watch: Kimiora Nati - The Kiwi Ferns' five-eighth will be a key cog for the New Zealanders if they want to take victory at home over the Jillaroos. The star of the Broncos grand final win, Nati will look to bring a replica of her grand final performance and will need to be at her best up against her Broncos halves partner Ali Brigginshaw.
Zahara Temara - The Roosters halfback has been named to start at the key position of halfback alongside QLD compatriot Ali Brigginshaw. The Queenslander was a key player for the Roosters during their final two rounds after being named to play at the unsuitable position of lock in the first two rounds. Temara possesses a strong kicking game which will be needed to turn around the big Kiwi Ferns pack.
My tip: New Zealand are a strong side and will be looking to have a big home crowd behind them as they try and take a win over the Jillaroos. Their Broncos premiership contingent are a vital cog and will look to use them as a catalyst for victory. The key battle will be in the halves with a new combination for both sides, but it will be important that they click quickly. Both nations have talent across the park but the Kiwi Ferns look to have the edge slightly and should take a close victory. Kiwi Ferns by 2.
1. Apii Nicholls 2. Karley Te Kawa 3. Honey Hireme 4. Maitua Feterika 5. Langi Veainu 6. Raecene Mcgregor 7. Kimiora Nati 8. Ngatokotoru Arakua 9. Nita Maynard 10. Aieshaleigh Smalley 11. Onjeurlina Leiataua 12. Teuila Fotu-moala 13. Laura Mariu 14. Georgia Hale 15. Annetta Nuuausala 16. Sui Pauaraisa 17. Amber Kani
1. Chelsea Baker 2. Julia Robinson 3. Hannah Southwell 4. Isabelle Kelly 5. Karina Brown 6. Ali Brigginshaw 7. Zahara Temara 8. Heather Ballinger 9. Brittany Breayley 10. Elianna Walton 11. Kezie Apps 17. Tazmin Gray 13. Simiana Taufa 12. Holli Wheeler 14. Keeley Davis 15. Stephanie Hancock 16. Annette Brander
Referees: Paki Parkinson; Sideline Officials: Joseph Green, Rochelle Tamarua; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Luke Patten;