The NSW Waratahs have named their team for their top-of-the-table clash with the Fijiana Drua in round five of the Buildcorp Super W.
Waratahs Head Coach Campbell Aitken has made three changes to his starting side that defeated the Melbourne Rebels 67-10 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Emily Robinson, Adriana Talakai, and Bridie O’Gorman once again make up the front row. Sera Naiqama makes her first run-on start of the season in place of the injured Atasi Lafai (shoulder) and joins Kaitlan Leaney in the second row.
Piper Duck, Emily Chancellor, and Captain Grace Hamilton form an imposing back row with Hamilton in line to play her 20th Super W match.
Iliseva Batibasaga returns to the starting side, bringing plenty of experience, and partners the inform flyhalf of the competition Pauline Piliae in the halves.
Georgina Friedrichs and Katrina Barker again form a dangerous midfield combination, while Lori Cramer and Margot Vella remain on the wings.
The competition’s leading try-scorer Mahalia Murphy (eight in three matches) has been ruled out late in the week with a hamstring complaint and is replaced by Arabelle McKenzie who is fresh off her Super Rugby Aupiki campaign with Matatu.
NSW Waratahs Captain Grace Hamilton was excited for the top-of-the-table clash against the Fijiana Drua, especially after having a week off with the Bye.
“I think everyone is just excited,” Hamilton said.
“It’s been a long time between games so the more footy we play, the more excited we get so we’re excited to get out there and play the best we can.
“You can see the more time (Fijiana Drua) spend together, the better they have got. They’re playing in a professional environment, training every day and they are getting better every day.
“I’m really proud of the girls for that but we know this week is going to be tough. We’re not shy about it, they’ve put a lot of points on teams so we know it’s going to be tough but we’re excited for the challenge.
“For us, we’ve just got to stick to our structure. We don’t buy into other teams, we just want to lay the platform into what we want to do but we know they love an offload so defensively we have to work hard, not have those one-off tackles, going in for those double tackles and we’ve got to have that line speed to nullify that passing channel of the offload.”
The Buildcorp Super W fixture will be the curtain-raiser to the men’s match, kicking off at 4:15pm.
NSW WARATAHS 23 TO TAKE ON FIJIANA DRUA
1 Emily Robinson 2 Adiana Talakai 3 Bridie O'Gorman 4 Kaitlan Leaney 5 Sera Naiqama 6 Piper Duck 7 Emily Chancellor 8 Grace Hamilton (c) 9 Iliseva Batibasaga 10 Pauline Piliae 11 Lori Cramer 12 Katrina Barker 13 Georgina Friedrichs 14 Margot Vella 15 Arabella McKenzie
16. Faliki Pohiva 17. Natalie Delamere 18. Asoiva (Eva) Karpani 19. Sabine Blakeman 20. Ana-Lise Sio 21. Tatum Bird 22. Nicole Nathan 23. Layne Morgan
Date: Friday 1 April
Kick-off: 5:15pm AEDT
Location: CBUS Super Stadium, Robina
Live on Stan Sport