THE NSW Women’s team will headline a festival of rugby at Pittwater Rugby Park, Warriewood on Saturday when they take on the Brumbies women in round three of the Super W competition.
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Lock Inge Visser will lead the side for the first time this year and takes over from regular captain Ash Hewson, from Vincentia.
While the forwards are unchanged, NSW Coach Rob Baumann has picked Sydney University’s Iliseva Batibasaga to start at halfback in place of Cobie-Jane Morgan, who is on the bench.
In midfield, Randwick’s Kennedy Cherrington and Warringah’s Crystal Macguire will pair up for the first time this year. Parramatta’s Josephine Falesita (rightwing) and Campbelltown’s Atasi Lafai (fullback) get to start as well.
“This is a great opportunity for our younger players,” Baumann said.
“We are giving Ash [Hewson] time to recover from niggling muscle strain.
“Josephine [Falesita] has been impressive coming off the bench in our first two games and young Alafou [Fatu] comes into the reserves.
“The midfield combination is young and skilful and full of enthusiasm, and continue to show great potential.
“Iliseva [Batibasaga] brings experience to the number nine jersey while Cobie-Jane [Morgan] can cover a few positions from the bench as well.”
Katrina Barker was not considered for selection because of an ankle injury she suffered in the win against the Western Force women last Sunday.
Captain Inge Visser was excited to take over the captaincy from Hewson.
“Ash has been leading the team in that role and she’s such a role model and such a legend here in Australia,” Visser said.
“I’m very excited and very honoured to be captaining this team.”
Visser said while the team has won the opening two rounds, the work isn’t done yet.
“We really stuck to our game plan but we had our moments,” she said.
“We have plenty to improve on and I think our game is getting better and better.
“We need to keep our tempo up and remain dominant in our set piece to give our backs some good ball.”
Baumann echoed the thoughts of Visser.
“We’ve played the first Super W match and we have had our first home game so now it’s about us settling down and continuing the momentum we from the first two rounds,” he said.
“Saturday venue is the home ground for a group of players in our squad so they will be familiar with the surroundings.
“Hopefully we get a great crowd and atmosphere.”
NSW Women's team to play Brumbies women: 1. Emily Robinson, 2. Tasmin Sheppard, 3. Evelyn Horomia, 4. Inge Visser ©, 5. Ana-Lise Sio, 6. Grace Hamilton, 19. Ariana Kaiwai (Blacktown), 8. Laura Devereux, 9. Iliseva Batibasaga (vc), 10. Chloe Leaupepe, 11. Shanice Parker, 12. Kennedy Cherrington, 13. Crystal Maguire, 14. Josephine Falesita, 15. Atasi Lafai, 16. Sarah Laman, 17. Melissa Fatu, 18. Nancy Vaiaku, 20. Natalie Maclarn, 7. Fi Jones, 21. Alafou Fatu, 22. Cobie-Jane Morgan and 23. Kirrily Laws.
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