After a stellar season, Aussie Sevens star Sharni Williams returns to the Wallaroos for her fourth Rugby World Cup, starting at centre in the opener against New Zealand on Saturday at Eden Park.
Playing for a record-breaking crowd of over 30,000 spectators, the Wallaroos will hunt for that elusive maiden win against the Black Ferns.
Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning is excited about the challenge of playing in front of a huge crowd, even though they will be supporting the opposition.
“Most of the pressure is on our hosts, the Black Ferns,” he said.
“The reality is that if you are playing international Rugby at the highest level, this is the atmosphere and the pressure that you should be craving.
“As Rugby players, what could be better than opening a Rugby World Cup in front of a record-breaking crowd against the host nation?
“We want to use that energy to really inspire us, and feed our performance.
“The entire squad has worked tirelessly in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup – I am so impressed by the players’ attitude and work-ethic.
“The selected 23 players have been in great form at training, however they have really been pushed by the entire squad – the intensity level has been high and it means that I have full confidence in the players selected for our first match.”
Fellow Australian Rugby Sevens player Bienne Terita will join Williams on the field, after scoring an impressive double during her Wallaroos debut at Adelaide Oval in September.
Lock Sera Naiqama will make her first run-on appearance for Australia on Saturday night, and is joined in the second row by Atasi Lafai.
Veteran scrum half Iliseva Batibasaga will add experience to the squad, as does the Wallaroos’ most capped player, prop Liz Patu.
Mainstays Pauline Piliae-Rasabale, Georgina Friedrichs, Ivania Wong and Arabella McKenzie have been prominent fixtures in the side for most of the season, and they complete the starting backline.
Bridie O’Gorman and Adiana Talakai join Patu in the starting front row at tighthead prop and hooker respectively.
The back row features a strong combination of youth and experience with the experienced Grace Hamilton starting at No. 8, and the exciting Emily Chancellor and captain Shannon Parry lining up as flankers.
Parry has relished the team’s reception in Auckland, commending New Zealand for its promotion of the 2021 Rugby World Cup.
“Our opener against the Black Ferns on Saturday will be a massive spectacle this weekend,” she said.
“To play on this scale at an iconic venue like Eden Park is incredible – especially when coupled with these record-breaking attendance figures.
“To represent Australia on the world stage, surrounded by my teammates and supported by my family, is going to be such a special moment.
“I’ll be looking out for that sprinkling of green-and-gold in amongst the blacked-out stadium.”
The Wallaroos v Black Ferns Rugby World Cup opening game will kick off at 7.15pm NZST (5.15pm AEST) this Saturday, 8 October, at Eden Park in Auckland.
The match will be shown live, ad-free, and on-demand on both Stan Sport and Nine Gem.
Wallaroos team to play the Black Ferns at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday 8 October, 7.15pm NZST / 5.15pm AEST
- Liz Patu – Queensland Reds
- Adiana Talakai – New South Wales Waratahs
- Bridie O'Gorman – New South Wales Waratahs
- Sera Naiqama – New South Wales Waratahs
- Atasi Lafai – New South Wales Waratahs
- Emily Chancellor – New South Wales Waratahs
- Shannon Parry (C) – Queensland Reds
- Grace Hamilton – New South Wales Waratahs
- Iliseva Batibasaga – New South Wales Waratahs
- Arabella McKenzie – New South Wales Waratahs
- Ivania Wong – Queensland Reds
- Sharni Williams – Australian Rugby Sevens
- Georgina Friedrichs – New South Wales Waratahs
- Bienne Terita – Australian Rugby Sevens
- Pauline Piliae-Rasabale – New South Wales Waratahs
- Ashley Marsters – Melbourne Rebels
- Emily Robinson – New South Wales Waratahs
- Eva Karpani – New South Wales Waratahs
- Michaela Leonard - Australian Capital Territory Brumbies
- Grace Kemp – Australian Capital Territory Brumbies
- Layne Morgan – New South Wales Waratahs
- Trilleen Pomare - Western Force
- Lori Cramer – New South Wales Waratahs
Wallaroos Rugby World Cup 2021 - Pool A Fixtures
Wallaroos v New Zealand, Saturday 8 October, 5:15pm AEST at Eden Park, Auckland
Wallaroos v Scotland, Saturday 15 October, 1:00pm AEST at Northland Events Centre, Whangarei
Wallaroos v Wales, Saturday 22 October, 12:15pm AEST at Northland Events Centre, Whangarei