The opening round of WXV1 rugby is finally upon us with the Wallaroos confirming their 23 player squad for this Friday’s clash against England.
Rebels Super Rugby W Captain Ash Marsters has been selected for another gold jersey in 2023, with the the dynamic ball carrier to provide valuable late game impact for Jay Tregonning’s side.
23-year-old prop Brianna Hoy will make her Wallaroos debut as one of six changes made to the starting XV from the team’s previous Test match in Hamilton.
The Coffs Harbour native is named to start at loosehead prop in place of Bree-Anna Cheatham who moves to the bench.
“I’m excited for Brianna. She has been working hard at improving her skill set since being included in the managed group after Super W this year,” Tregonning said.
“She has earnt the opportunity this Friday to pull on the gold jersey for the first time which is really exciting.”
Tania Naden will start at hooker alongside Eva Karpani in a shuffle of the front row, with Adiana Talakai shifting to the reserves.
Captain Michaela Leonard will assume her normal spot in the second row and is joined by Annabelle Codey who has earned a recall to the match day squad.
Having played at blindside flanker against New Zealand last month, Kaitlan Leaney moves to number eight.
Emily Chancellor will again start at openside flanker with Siokapesi Palu making the shift to the forwards, starting at blindside flanker having previously played in the centres.
In place of the injured Lori Cramer, Faitala Moleka will start at fullback with Ivania Wong and Maya Stewart combining on the wings.
The final change to the starting line-up sees Arabella McKenzie named at inside centre, where she will combine with outside centre Georgina Friedrichs.
The halves pairing of Layne Morgan and Carys Dallinger remains unchanged. On the bench, Atasi Lafai makes her return to the matchday squad for the first time in over a year, having suffered a serious ankle injury during last year’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
In addition to Lafai, halfback Sarah Dougherty and outside back Desiree Miller have been named on the bench and are in line for a potential Wallaroos debut. Bree-Anna Cheatham, Emily Robinson and Cecelia Smith round out the reserves.
Hervey Bay product Dougherty has been a mainstay in the Reds Super W set up for the past two seasons and now gets her opportunity to stake her claim at the next level.
Miller’s inclusion comes off the back of a remarkable 2023, having only made her Super W debut for the Waratahs in the opening round of the season against the Western Force.
“The competition for places at halfback continues to be hotly contested and Sarah has taken the opportunity presented to her this week and also during our camp in Brisbane before the Laurie O’Reilly test,” Tregonning said.
“Desiree has been part of our squad since May has the attributes required to play at the international level. She has worked hard across the year to earn her opportunity.
“We know England are a strong outfit but we’re ready for the challenge ahead.
“This week, our mindset has been about making sure we stay in the fight and we want to produce an encouraging performance to kick off the WXV1 campaign.”
The match will be shown live, ad-free, and on-demand on Stan Sport.
Wallaroos vs. England Sky Stadium, Wellington 7:00pm NZDT (5.00pm AEDT) Friday 20 October
1. Brianna Hoy - uncapped
2. Tania Naden – 6 caps
3. Eva Karpani – 17 caps
4. Michaela Leonard (c) – 18 caps
5. Annabelle Codey – 4 caps
6. Siokapesi Palu – 3 caps
7. Emily Chancellor – 19 caps
8. Kaitlan Leaney – 11 caps
9. Layne Morgan – 15 caps
10. Carys Dallinger – 3 caps
11. Ivania Wong – 8 caps
12. Arabella McKenzie – 18 caps
13. Georgina Friedrichs – 15 caps
14. Maya Stewart – 5 caps
15. Faitala Moleka – 2 caps
16. Adiana Talakai – 12 caps
17. Bree-Anna Cheatham – 5 caps
18. Emily Robinson – 21 caps
19. Atasi Lafai – 6 caps
20. Ashley Marsters – 23 caps
21. Sarah Dougherty – uncapped
22. Cecilia Smith – 8 caps
23. Desiree Miller – uncapped
BUILDCORP WALLAROOS WXV1 FIXTURES
Wallaroos v England, 5:00pm (AEDT), Friday 20 October, Sky Stadium, Wellington
Wallaroos v France, 5:00pm (AEDT), Saturday 28 October, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Wallaroos v Wales, 5:00pm (AEDT), Friday 3 November, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland