Saturday’s exciting clash will prove to be a crucial encounter for the Buildcorp Wallaroos ahead of the year’s first Test match against Fiji.
Returning home to Allianz Stadium, the Wallaroos are looking to kick start their series in full swing with the help of 12 Waratahs players named in Head Coach Jay Tregonning’s first Wallaroos squad of the 2023 season.
Here are the five things you need to know ahead of the Fiji Fixture:
1. Fired up Wallaroos face their Fiji foes
The Wallaroos will face some familiar foes as the Waratah stacked squad will face a Fiji side yet again after the Buildcorp Super W Competition. The Waratahs women are fired up after last month’s semi-final loss fresh in their mind.
The Wallaroos squad include Waratahs Adiana Talakai, Bridie O’Gorman, Caitlyn Halse, Desiree Miller, Emily Robinson, Eva Karpani, Grace Hamilton, Layne Morgan, Leilani Nathan, Maya Stewart and Sera Naiqama. Georgina Friedrichs is also looking to give no sympathies with her Wallaroos Player of the year status.
The Wallaroos squad dominated with Tahs are looking to make their mark this weekend in their first Fiji fixture of the season.
2. Waratahs Piper Duck selected for Wallaroos captaincy
Just this week, the Wallaroos have announced that Piper Duck will captain the side following Shannon Parry’s retirement after the Fiji test. Not only was Duck a brilliant captain for the Waratahs throughout the Super W season but stood as the youngest ever Waratahs Super W captain, and now potentially for the Wallaroos.
When questioned on what the Waratahs captaincy meant to her earlier this year, Duck said “if I can get a young girl on that paddock for the first time, I know I’ve done something. I just want to be able to do my best to support them in doing that”. Now, Duck will continue to do so with the Green and Gold.
While she is currently nursing a foot injury, Duck is expected to take the position against the
Black Ferns on 29 June and will continue to make history as the youngest captain in Wallaroos history at just 22 years. She will do so with the help of the women beside her.
“Shannon [Parry] is a legend of Aussie Rugby, and of the Wallaroos. It has been such a privilege to play under here, and to learn from her – she is a hero that so many of us younger girls look up to and I can’t thank her enough. I will definitely be leaning on Shannon for advice”.
The Wallaroos will continue to be in good hands with Piper Duck after Shannon Parry’s excellent leadership throughout the years.
3. Seasoned Tahs and Promising Newcomers
After an exciting Buildcorp Super W tournament, women’s rugby continues to be on an uphill trajectory with the excitement high after Super W’s most competitive season yet.
Wallaroos Head Coach Jay Tregonning has named a team featuring a mix of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers that includes 12 Waratahs players.
NSW Waratahs Layne Morgan will start at scrum-half, while Grace Hamilton has maintained her place in the No. 8 jersey. The backline also featured Maya Stewart who made her name known in the Rugby World Cup last year.
Fellow Tahs teammates in the starting XV also include Eva Karpani and Georgina Friedrichs while Emily Robinson, Bridie O’Gorman and Sera Naiqama are included in the match day 23.
Further, the Wallaroos squad featured Waratahs newcomers with rookie Caitlyn Halse who earlier this year became the youngest ever Waratahs debutant with an excellent season.
Other Wallaroos-Waratah debutants include Desiree Miller and Leilani Nathan who crafted their skills at Eastern Suburbs in the Jack Scott Cup over the last two seasons, highlighting grassroots rugby pathways at its finest.
It will be a thrilling season ahead for the Green and Gold with the help of Sky-Blue.
4. Waratahs No. 9 Partnership – Layne Morgan and Jake Gordon
Wallaroos Head Coach Jay Tregonning has selected Layne Morgan to start at scrum-half.
Following the retirement of Iliseva Batibasaga who made her mark as a trailblazer for Women’s Rugby while mentoring Morgan, Morgan looks to make her own mark on the number 9 jersey. This process has involved the help of calling up the big guns with Waratahs
Captain and Wallaby Jake Gordon.
“I have been lucky enough to have him [Jake] give up some time to be able to teach me some tricks of the trade, to help build my game and learn how he plays and how he thinks”.
Waratahs assistant Coach Pauli Tauemoepeau helped start it all.
“I was sitting down and talking to Pauli at the end of season last year and mentioned that I would love to sit down with Jake and pick his brain.
“Once we got back into the season for 2023, he put me and Jake in a group chat on WhatsApp and left it to us to organise it. I was really lucky that Pauli helped with that and also getting that confidence to reach out and have those conversations is one thing too”.
While Morgan has had Gordon’s mentorship, she still recognises the significance of her own game.
“We both play pretty fast and he has a wealth of knowledge”.
“But I am still creating my own game and trying to create the Layne Morgan game”.
5. Fiji double header
This weekend will also be a double header at Allianz Stadium as the NSW Waratahs take on Fiji in Round 13 of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific competition.
“Having the game at Allianz is unreal. It is a great venue and we are really excited to play. I just want to get out there in that gold jersey and absolutely rip in” Morgan said.
As you attend the Wallaroos First Test Match, you also get complimentary ticket to the Super Rugby clash.
“I am so excited to show what we as Australians can do in female rugby because we are only together for a week and we are learning this game plan since last Sunday. It is a short turnaround and is something that needs to be appreciated”.
Attend this weekend to appreciate our Wallaroos and watch the Waratahs second last home game as the Super Rugby tournament almost comes to an end.
“It is great to have the Tahs playing too. They’re our home team for us NSW girls and we know that we will have their support prior to the game” said Morgan.
Be sure to also show your support this Saturday 20 May at Allianz Stadium.