Source: Hannah Peters - World Rugby via Getty Images

A much-changed Wallaroos’ Squad to face England

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Jay Tregonning has not been afraid to experiment with the 23 he’s selected to face England on Friday 20 October.

The Squad:

1 *Brianna Hoy (NSW Waratahs), 2 Tania Naden (ACT Brumbies, 6 caps), 3 Eva Karpani (NSW Waratahs, 17), 4 Michaela Leonard (captain, Western Force, 18), 5 Annabelle Codey (Queensland Reds, 4), 6 Siokapesi Palu (ACT Brumbies, 3) 7 Emily Chancellor (Harlequins, 19), 8 Kaitlan Leaney (Harlequins, 11), 9 Layne Morgan (NSW Waratahs, 15), 10 Carys Dallinger (Queensland Reds, 3), 11 Ivania Wong (Queensland Reds, 8), 12 Arabella McKenzie (Harlequins, 18), 13 Georgina Friedrichs (NSW Waratahs, 15), 14 Maya Stewart (NSW Waratahs, 5), 15 Faitala Moleka (ACT Brumbies, 2)

Bench: 16 Adiana Talakai (NSW Waratahs, 12 caps), 17 Bree-Anna Cheatham (Queensland Reds, 5), 18 Emily Robinson (NSW Waratahs, 21), 19 Atasi Lafai (NSW Waratahs, 6), 20 Ashley Marsters (Melbourne Rebels, 23), 21 *Sarah Dougherty 22 Cecilia Smith (Queensland Reds, 8) 23 *Desiree Miller (NSW Waratahs)

He adds three new caps: Brianna Hoy is the one starter at loose-head; Sarah Dougherty (scrum-half) and Desiree Miller, described as ‘a kicking ace’, are assigned to the bench.

More contraversially he has switched Pesi Palu from centre to the back row, but he has been planning that adjustment with her for a while. Hoy is one of five changes to the pack since the Wallaroos’ last game against the Black Ferns.

Atasi Lafai makes a welcome return after a serious ankle injury kept her out of the game for a year.

Tregonning has made other minor adjustments, both to make optimum use of the talent he has available and to monitor the game-time one or two players have had. That helps to explain the presence of familar faces like Emily Robinson and Ashley Marsters on the bench. Kaitlan Leaney, familiar to Quins’ fans, shifts from the second row to No 8.

The quad have been training north of Wellington at the Jerry Collins Stadium, Poririua, where the two nations met in 2017 as part of the International Women’s Rugby Series. England won 53-10. So the Wallaroos’ first target will be to reduce the margin. They started completely on top; England could hardly lay a hand on the ball – 7-0. This time they must ensure the game doesn’t swing away from them the same way. But with the Red Roses six years further down the path to professionalism, the odds are against that happening.

We can only hope that this first venture into the world of WXV marks a positive change in Rugby Australia’s thinking about the status of 15s rugby. They have announced their search for a full-time head coach, but the move would have benefited the squad more if it had come much sooner.