Three Sevens stars, including two Olympic gold medallists, have been named in a 28-strong Australia squad for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.
Australia Sevens co-captains Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry have both been included as they prepare for their third 15s World Cup, while new cap and speedster Mahalia Murphy has also made the squad selected by Wallaroos head coach Paul Verrell.
Verrell’s charges lost to England (53-10), New Zealand (44-17) and Canada (45-5) in this month’s International Women’s Series. They will be Ireland’s opening night opponents at the World Cup in August, facing the tournament hosts at the UCD Bowl on Wednesday, August 9 (kick-off 7pm).
The Wallaroos, who will also take on France and Japan in Pool C, will come together in Sydney at the end of July before departing for Ireland on Wednesday, August 2 – a week before their pool opener in Dublin.
Western Australian out-half Trilleen Pomare is the second and only other uncapped player in a squad that tallies up 156 caps with nine players already having World Cup experience. Powerful number 8 Victoria Latu, who was one of their star players in the International Series, misses out through injury.
Verrell said: “This month’s tour in New Zealand really showed us the standard of the best three teams in the world and we know what we need to do to reach that level now, so it’s time for the next generation of Wallaroos to really step up.
“We have a really competitive pool with Ireland, France and Japan and we know that there’s no such thing as an easy game at a World Cup. We’re really looking forward to pulling on that gold jersey and doing it proud.”
Versatile Sydney back Ashleigh Hewson, who captained the Wallaroos recently against England and New Zealand, is the most experienced member of the squad with 15 caps, closely followed by centre Williams (14) and forwards Rebecca Clough (13), Liz Patu, Alisha Hewett and Cheyenne Campbell (all 12).
Ten-times capped flanker Parry commented: “At the end of the day we are the underdogs, the pressure is on the host nation, the pressure is on the powerhouse nation in France. For us it’s about going there and treating every game and every minute as it comes. We’ve got a really good squad with a lot of depth and talent and I have no doubt that will put us in good stead moving forward.”
WRWC 2017 Fixtures:
Pool C –
Ireland v Australia, UCD Bowl, 7pm, Wednesday, August 9
France v Australia, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm, Sunday, August 13
Australia v Japan, Billings Park, UCD, 5pm, Thursday, August 17
For more on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, visit the tournament website – www.rwcwomens.com. Buy your match tickets for #WRWC2017 now on www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.
AUSTRALIA WRWC 2017 Squad: Backs (12) – Katrina Barker (NSW Country), Fenella Hake (Queensland), Ashleigh Hewson (Sydney), Nareta Marsters (Sydney), Mahalia Murphy (Sydney) *, Trilleen Pomare (Western Australia) *, Sarah Riordan (Australian Services Rugby Union), Kayla Sauvao (Sydney), Huia Swanell (Western Australia), Ashleigh Timoko (Western Australia), Samantha Terherne (Queensland), Sharni Williams (ACT).
Forwards (16) – Millie Boyle (ACT), Chloe Butler (South Australia), Cheyenne Campbell (Queensland), Rebecca Clough (Western Australia), Mollie Gray (Australian Services Rugby Union), Grace Hamilton (Sydney), Alisha Hewett (Australian Services Rugby Union), Evelyn Horomia (Sydney), Kiri Lingman (Queensland), Hana Ngaha (Queensland), Shannon Parry (Queensland), Liz Patu (Queensland), Emily Robinson (Sydney), Hilisha Samoa (Queensland), Alexandra Sulusi (Sydney), Violeta Tupuola (ACT).
* Denotes uncapped player