Here we go again.
After a commanding win against the Brumbies during the week, the NSW Waratahs women are headed to their third straight Super W final and face a familiar foe in the QLD Reds.
It would have been their fourth but unfortunately due to COVID last season’s final didn’t take place with the Waratahs awarded the title.
For Waratahs scrumhalf Iliseva Batibasaga this weekend’s clash has been a long time coming.
“This is kind of like a super charged Grand Final because we didn't have one last year and then to be, you know, crowned the champions, it didn’t quite feel the same,” Batibasaga said.
“So, this has definitely been 18 months in the making, and the girls are ready to go.”
Batibasaga was probably always destined for the big stage in rugby as her family has a strong connection to the game with her father Isimeli Batibasaga representing Fiji in the 70’s.
The Waratahs and Wallaroos halfback described the impact on her father had on her game growing up.
“Well, my dad, he played rugby for Fiji, both in 15s and sevens back in the 70s,” Batibasaga said.
“And he also played halfback, so he's been a major influence on my game.
“He always gives me a call up of in the morning of a game day, and then a check in at the end gameday to see how I went.
“I remember when I was younger, and I was playing, he’d always have a distinct whistle and I knew that whenever I heard that whistle, that's when I will have to go blind side off a scrum.
“So yeah, he's definitely a big influence on my game and how I play.”
Batibasaga, now one of the older heads in the team, is keen to have her own influence on her younger teammates and had some strong messages coming into the final.
“I want to leave the jersey in a better place and what I found it,” Batibasaga said.
“So, every time I get to wear this jersey, I want to play to its full potential, and show those younger girls coming through that with hard work determination and commitment, this is where you can be.”
The past 18 months have been challenging for sports and women’s rugby with a host of matches cancelled from Super W, to Wallaroos Test matches to the postponement of the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Despite the obstacles the Waratahs women have maintained their impressively high standards through it all by staying tight as a group.
“From day dot we’ve known that we have to stick together,” Batibasaga said.
“It's just been about our circle with all the interactions that we've had, obstacles that we've had to endure, the one thing that never changes is our circle.
“We just kept reminding ourselves of that and just keep supporting each other, until we get to the end which is coming up this weekend.”
As a leader in the team Batibasaga was under no illusions at what awaits the side in the final. The Queensland Reds will have plenty of motivation after losing the past two finals by just three points each time.
“Yeah look it’s state of origin, we're definitely preparing ourselves for a battle, a battle to the end,” Batibasaga said.
“It's going to be intense. We're going to have to play it, quarter by quarter. And we just have to stick together.”
The Super W Final is at C.ex Coffs International Stadium and will be live and exclusive on StanSport this Saturday at 1:30 AEST