WALLAROOS head coach Paul Verrell has named his match-day 23-person squad, which includes Vincentia’s Ashleigh Hewson, ahead of the team’s opening pool game of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World, against host-nation Ireland, at the University College Dublin (UCD) Bowl at 4:00am (AEST) on Thursday, August 8.
Two debutants have been named in the starting XV, with Australian Sevens star Mahalia Murphy named on the wing and Western Australia’s Trilleen Pomare set to steer the side from flyhalf.
Australian Sevens Olympic gold medallist Shannon Parry will captain the side, with fellow gold medallist Sharni Williams and Queensland hooker Cheyenne Campbell named as vice-captains.
Campbell will be joined by Liz Patu and Hilisha Samoa to form an all Queensland front-row, while Chloe Butler and Millie Boyle will be the starting lock pairing.
In the backrow, Parry and Grace Hamilton will welcome the return of Mollie Gray, who will play her first Test since suffering a serious knee-injury at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens in February this year.
NSW Country’s Katrina Barker will join Pomare in the halves, while Kayla Sauvao will form a centre combination with Williams.
Winger Nareta Marsters and fullback Samantha Treherne will join Murphy in the back-three.
In the reserves, Emily Robinson, Violeta Tupuola and Hana Ngaha will provide frontrow cover, while Rebecca Clough and Aisha Hewett will cover both lock and backrow.
Fenella Hake, Sarah Riordan and Ashleigh Hewson will provide cover for the backs.
“The team have been hard at work since we came together at Narrabeen over a week ago, and we’ve put together our strongest team to take on the tournament hosts,” head coach Paul Verrell said.“
“We’ve made nine changes from the side that ran out against Canada in our final match of the Four Nations tour in New Zealand, and we added a fair amount of experience into the side with the return of our Sevens players and Mollie.
“There has been a lot of exposure of the Women’s game locally in the lead up to the tournament, and after a week of preparation in Ireland, the team are hungry to get out on the field.
“Our lead up to the 2017 tournament has been the best yet, with state based training and the Four Nations tournament providing us with a great platform to build from.
“Facing Ireland first up will be a challenge, but it will also provide our girls the chance to set the tone of the tournament and produce a solid performance against the home-side in front of their fans.”
The Wallaroos will play Ireland on Wednesday evening at UCD bowl in Dublin, kick-off at 7pm local time (4:00am, Thursday, August 8 AEST).
The match will be broadcast live via FOX SPORTS.
Wallaroos side to face Ireland: 1.Liz Patu, 2. Cheyenne Campbell, 3. Hilisha Samoa, 4. Chloe Butler, 5. Millie Boyle, 6. Mollie Gray, 7. Shannon Parry, 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Katrina Barker, 10. Trilleen Pomare, 11. Mahalia Murphy, 12. Sharni Williams, 13. Kayla Sauvao, 14. Nareta Marsters, 15. Samantha Treherne, 16. Emily Robinson, 17. Violeta Tupuola, 18. Hana Ngaha, 19. Rebecca Clough, 20. Alisha Hewett, 21. Fenella Hake, 22. Sarah Riordan, 23. Ashleigh Hewson.