Wallaroos make some changes as they plot upset win over Black Ferns

Coach Joe Yap has made four changes to the starting XI that lost to the USA last week, as Australia prepare to face arch-rivals New Zealand this weekend with their WXV1 Championship hopes on the line.

The Wallaroos have started their new era under coach Jap with two defeats from as many games. After a convincing defeat to eventual Pacific Series IV champions Canada, the Australians were unable to maintain their first-half lead against the USA.

Australia will need to beat arch-rivals New Zealand for the first time, while also picking up a bonus point for the win, to book their WXV1 play in October. If the gold-winning women fail to do so, they will miss out on this prestigious event.

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Coach Yap has named a relatively stable squad for the Black Ferns' crucial matches with Atasi Lafay, Leilani Nathan and Cecilia Smith, with three individuals in the squad going into the competition having been changed. Captain Mikayla Leonard has also switched from a headlock to a headlock.

“Although the first two results against Canada and the United States were not what we were seeking, the team held together well and showed some good lessons and progress,” coach Joe Yap said in a statement.

“We've had a good week of training in Auckland and I'm excited to see how the team performs against the Black Ferns.

“Unfortunately, Ash Marsters is unavailable due to injury.”

NSW Waratahs' Brianna Hoy and Eva Karpani retain their places in the starting line-up as they will be joined by 12-cap hooker Tania Nadine.

Captain Leonard is set to hit a career milestone this weekend after being selected for her 25th roley Exam. The Western Force lock will partner Atassi Lavai in the middle row, while Siokapisi Blau, Leilani Nathan and Pepper Duck complete the forwards.

Nathan comes into the First XV at open wing following last weekend's starter Ashley Marsters who suffered an ankle injury.

Samantha Wood's partners tested flyhalf Arabella McKenzie in the halves once again, but they will have a new face out of the mix compared to the match against USA where Cecila Smith is set to wear the No. 12 jacket.

Smith will partner Waratah center Georgina Friedrich in midfield.

It's an outside back three for NSW as well, with Desiree Miller selected to start on the left wing and Maya Stewart on the right. 17-year-old Kaitlyn Hulse retains her place at fullback after making her debut for the Wallaroos last week.

Kaitlin Lianey and Trilyn Pomare will both look to make an impact off the bench against the New Zealanders after withdrawing from the starting line-up.

This Trans-Tasman blockbuster will kick off at North Harbor Stadium at 12:05pm AEST / 2:05pm NZT. Fans can watch the Pacific Four Series match live and free on RugbyPass TV.

The Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns

  1. Brianna Howe
  2. Tania Nadine
  3. Eva Carpani
  4. Michaela Leonard (c)
  5. Atassi Lafay
  6. Ciocapisi Palo
  7. 7. Leilani Nathan
  8. Piper Duck
  9. Samantha Wood
  10. Arabella McKenzie
  11. Desiree Miller
  12. Cecilla Smith
  13. Georgina Friedrich
  14. Maya Stewart
  15. Caitlin Hulse


  1. Hera Barb Malcolm Hick
  2. Sally Fusina
  3. Bridie O'Gorman
  4. Caitlin Linney
  5. Tapua tuinakavadra
  6. Lynn Morgan
  7. Trilene Pomare
  8. Vittala Mollika


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