PREVIEW: Black Ferns v Wallaroos (Brisbane)

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Match Details: New Zealand v Australia, Dolphins Stadium, Brisbane, 7.05 pm (9.05 pm NZT) June 29, 2023

Played: 23

Won: New Zealand 23, Australia 0

Last time: New Zealand 41-17 Australia, Eden Park, October 8, 2022

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron

Watch: Sky Sport or Prime TV in New Zealand


The Wallaroos have had one game already this year, a 22-5 win over Fiji women in Sydney on May 20. The game is the first for the Black Ferns in 2023.


It's one thing winning a World Cup; it's another to maintain the momentum of that success, especially when personnel changes are tasked with building from that Cup base. Rugby World Cup-winning co-captain and first five-eighths Ruahei Demand is up for the challenge. "The way we played last year, with the courage and the freedom we built, has definitely been the foundation and how we would still like to play," she said. Part of the process during the Pacific Four Series is to bridge the gap between the World Cup side and the new-look Black Ferns, who will field six debutantes against Australia before their trip to Canada and the United States to complete the series.


Lock Michaela Leonard will captain the Wallaroos for the first time, with former captain Shannon Parry now retired and new captain Piper Duck out injured. Leonard said she was excited to take on the role. "Being a part of the Wallaroos for the past five years has been a massive part of my life, and all of us. The sacrifices we make, the structures and what we strive for, and I think being seen by our coaching staff as having the qualities to lead that squad out is something that will be a lasting memory for me." She will be boosted by the return of three players who played part of the northern season for Harlequins, Arabella McKenzie, Emily Chancellor and blindside flanker Kaitlan Leaney. Ash Marsters will move to the openside flank in a bigger Australian pack than in recent times.


Black Ferns coach Allan Bunting: "We talk about our DNA, it's in our soul. We weren't born with shields. We were born with weapons. We were born to attack."


The Laurie O'Reilly Cup was first played between New Zealand and Australia in 1994, and across their years of international rugby, the Australians have never held the trophy while the Black Ferns have built a winning percentage against all nations of 85.22 per cent.


Black Ferns (caps in brackets):

1. Kate Henwood* 2. Georgia Ponsonby (13) 3. Tanya Kalounivale (6) 4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (14) 5. Chelsea Bremner (12) 6. Alana Bremner (13) 7. Kennedy Simon (13) (Co-Captain) 8. Liana Mikaele-Tu'u (11) 9. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (12) 10. Ruahei Demant (26) (Co-Captain) 11. Katelyn Vahaakolo* 12. Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai'i (Sylvia) Brunt (7) 13. Amy du Plessis (7) 14. Mererangi Paul* 15. Renee Holmes (10)

Reserves: 16. Luka Connor (14) 17. Krystal Murray (9) 18. Amy Rule (12) 19. Joanah Ngan Woo (17) 20. Kendra Reynolds (13) 21. Iritana Hohaia* 22. Rosie Kelly* 23. Tenika Willison*

*Denotes Black Ferns debut.


1. Bree-Anna Cheatham 2. Tania Naden 3. Eva Karpani 4. Michaela Leonard (C) 5. Annabelle Codey 6. Kaitlan Leaney 7. Ashley Marsters 8. Grace Hamilton 9. Layne Morgan 10. Carys Dallinger 11. Ivania Wong 12. Cecilia Smith 13. Georgina Friedrichs 14. Maya Stewart 15. Faitala Moleka

Reserves: 16. Madison Schuck 17. Emily Robinson 18. Bridie O’Gorman 19. Sera Naiqama 20. Emily Chancellor 21. Jasmin Huriwai 22. Arabella McKenzie 23. Alana Elisaia


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