The NSW Waratahs have named their team for their blockbuster clash with the Fijiana Drua in the Final of the Buildcorp Super W.
Waratahs Head Coach Campbell Aitken has made four changes (three new players and one positional change) to his starting side that defeated the Reds 36-0 at Eric Tweedale Stadium in the Semi-Final.
Bridie O’Gorman is the only change to the forward pack starting at tight-head prop in place of Eva Karpani who reverts to the bench.
O’Gorman is joined in the front row by Emily Robinson and Natalie Delamere who has scored three tries in her past two matches.
Sera Naiqama once again partners Kaitlan Leaney in the second row.
Piper Duck, Emily Chancellor, and skipper Grace Hamilton have been named together in the back-row for the fourth consecutive week.
Hamilton led from the front in the Waratahs’ Semi-Final win over the Reds, carrying the ball 16 times for 46 metres, and scored the opening try of the game.
Arabella McKenzie has recovered from a head knock and retains the playmaking duties for the side alongside Illiseva Batibasaga in the halves.
Katrina Barker has failed to recover from a shoulder injury suffered in the final round of the season, allowing Georgina Friedrichs to form a new midfield combination with Pauline Piliae.
Waratahs Head Coach Campbell Aitken will be looking to make the most of the Piliae’s playmaking abilities.
“Pauline fits in nicely in that second playmaker role and as we like to play a fairly expansive game, her passing and ability to distribute and kick well give us more options,” Campbell said.
“We’re hoping with Pauline at 12 it will allow us to play a bit quicker and wider.”
Try-scoring machine Mahalia Murphy (ten tries in four matches), who missed the Waratahs loss against the Drua on the Gold Coast, remains at fullback.
“Mahalia has a huge influence on the team and brings us that extra bit of experience and calmness which was probably missing last time we played the Drua,” Campbell said.
“She also has genuine x-factor and the ability to create something out of nothing which we saw on the weekend where she scored a try and set up her teammate for one just minutes later.”
Margot Vella and Lori Cramer complete the side on the wings with Vella in a rich vein of form with three tries in her past two matches.
WARATAHS GRAND FINAL 23
1 Emily Robinson 2 Natalie Delamere 3 Bridie O'Gorman 4 Kaitlan Leaney 5 Sera Naiqama 6 Piper Duck 7 Emily Chancellor 8 Grace Hamilton © 9 Iliseva Batibasaga 10 Arabella McKenzie 11 Lori Cramer 12 Pauline Piliae 13 Georgina Friedrichs 14 Margot Vella 15 Mahalia Murphy
16. Faliki Pohiva 17. Adriana Talakai 18. Asoiva (Eva) Karpani 19. Sabine Blakeman 20. Ella Koster 21. Nicole Nathan 22. Tatum Bird 23. Layne Morgan
Date: Saturday 23 April
Buildcorp Super W Final NSW Waratahs v Fijiana Drua (Kick off at 2:05pm)
Location: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Live on Stan Sport