Two powerhouses of women’s rugby league will go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday (AEDT) when the Australian Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns square off in their fourth-consecutive World Cup Final.
Winger Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly is the only change to the Kiwi Ferns for their Rugby League World Cup showdown against Australia at Old Trafford, Manchester on Sunday morning (NZ time).
The trans-Tasman foes will face off for the fourth time in a World Cup final, with the Jillaroos winning the last two, while also enjoying a narrow 10-8 pool win over the NZ women at this tournament.
New Zealand qualified for the title match with a 20-6 win over England midweek, but from that line-up, Katelyn Vahaakolo makes way for Stephens Daly.
The two sides have already faced off in the 2021 World Cup, with Australia defeating their Trans-Tasman rivals by two points in the final group game — the Kiwi underdogs standing tall against such their highly-touted opponent.
Led by 2022 NRLW Dally M medallist and Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor, Brisbane props Amber Hall and Brianna Clark and rugby union convert Mele Hufanga, the Kiwi Ferns will head into Sunday’s match full of confidence after finding another gear in Tuesday’s 20-6 win over a fired-up England.
Brad Donald’s Jillaroos side, boasting world-class talent and remarkable depth, remain hot favourites and will head into the match full of confidence having racked up the points against Papua New Guinea in the semi-final.
Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns set to play three tests in nine days for Rugby League World Cup glory
Two rugby league matches in four days is a tall order but if Australia and New Zealand have their way, they will be playing three games in just over a week as they hunt Women’s Rugby League World Cup glory.
When the Jillaroos meet Papua New Guinea and the Kiwi Ferns take on England in Tuesday morning’s (AEDT) semifinals in York, it will be just four days since the bruising final group match between the trans-Tasman rivals.
The winner will advance to the final at Old Trafford, which will be played as part of a double-header with the men’s final between Samoa and Australia.
Jillaroos: Sam Bremner returns at fullback, shifting Emma Tonegato back to the bench, while Evania Pelite and Julia Robinson retain spots in the outside backs alongside star centres Isabelle Kelly and Jess Sergis. Tarryn Aiken partners Ali Brigginshaw in the halves, while co-captain Kezie Apps joins Yasmin Clydsdale in the back row. Kennedy Cherrington, Lauren Brown and Shaylee Bent join Tonegato on the bench with Holli Wheeler the unlucky player to miss out.
Kiwi Ferns: Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly returns to the side on the wing and will partner Mele Hufanga, who looms as a player to watch for the Kiwi Fern after starring in the semi-final against England. 2022 Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor will start in the halves alongside Abigail Roache, while Charlotte Scanlan and Katelyn Vahaakolo have been named at 18th and 19th players respectively.