Wallaroos captain expects a reaction from forwards after Canada demolition



Captain Michaela Leonard expects a reaction from the Wallaroos' forward line in their Pacific Four rugby match against the USA after being dominated by Canada.

The Australians lost 33-14 in the final round in Sydney and the Canadians scored all five tries across the front row.

The Wallaroos meet the winless Americans at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday afternoon in a lively encounter, as they look to once again qualify for Canada's top-tier WXV 1 competition in September and October.

The loser is set to finish last in the Pacific Four and will play in the WXV 2 league in South Africa.

Luke Leonard said her attackers worked hard this week to improve their performance against Canada.

“Certainly as strikers, we take it on the chin, and maybe we have a little bit of that,” Leonard said after the final training session in Melbourne.

“We did a really good job this week of shoring up a few of our areas around set pieces, especially the scrum and around our striking defense and we want to create those weapons this week.

“A lot of chatting and a lot of work on becoming more physical, especially the strikers as well, so hopefully we will see that.”

Wallaroos 2023 player of the year Eva Carpani is back in the first grade, and Leonard expects her to add some punch in attack and defence.

“Eva is an exceptional physical player, and we saw that through WXV, her strength, carrying the ball, scoring tries, but also in defence,” the Western Force star said.

“It's exciting to be back in the starting lineup this week and hopefully we can get some good hits and some good runs.”

New Wallaroos coach Joe Yap has named teenager Kaitlyn Hulse to start at fullback, with the 17-year-old being the youngest player to make his debut for the Australian women's or men's Test team.

Leonard said the NSW youngster showed she was ready.

“The growth and development that Kaitlyn has seen over the last 12 months, being part of some of our Wallaroos campaigns last year and then coming into this year, she has really matured as a player on and off the field,” the captain said.

“I think her composure on the court now and her ability to communicate has grown so quickly, so I'm definitely excited for her to showcase that on the court and then show how much of an offensive threat she can be with the ball in hand. OK.”

Captain Kate Zachary returns from injury for Team USA, starting at blindside while Mackenzie Hawkins returns at No. 5 after missing their loss to New Zealand.





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