Hamilton, Hewson for World Cup opener
Sydney University Women’s Rugby Club members Grace Hamilton and Ashleigh Hewson, as part of the Australian squad, will meet Ireland in tomorrow's opening round of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Number eight Hamilton has been selected in the run-on side for the match against host nation Ireland at University College Dublin Bowl (4am AEST) tomorrow, while utility back Hewson has been selected on the bench.
The Wallaroos are in Pool C alongside hosts Ireland, as well as France and Japan. Their three pool matches will all be played at University College Dublin, with France on August 14, and Japan on August 18.
Other teams contesting the 2017 World Cup are New Zealand, Wales, USA, Italy, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Japan, England and Spain
Hewson and Hamilton were selected in the 28-woman Australian squad after touring New Zealand with the Wallaroos for the Four Nations tournament in June.
Hewson, who captained the Wallaroos on the New Zealand tour, needs just two more points to become the highest pointscorer in Wallaroos history. She is on 64 points, one behind former winger Tricia Brown, who finished her career with 65 points.
Backrower Hamilton, who hails from Panuara in the NSW Central West, started playing rugby while on a university exchange to the US.
Wallaroos head coach Paul Verrell named two debutants in the starting XV, with Australian Sevens star Mahalia Murphy named on the wing and Western Australia’s Trilleen Pomare at five-eighth.
Australian Sevens Olympic gold medallist Shannon Parry will captain the side, with fellow gold medallist Sharni Williams and Queensland hooker Cheyenne Campbell named as vice-captains.
Campbell will be joined by Liz Patu and Hilisha Samoa to form an all Queensland frontrow, while Chloe Butler and Millie Boyle will be the starting lock pairing.
In the backrow, Parry and Hamilton will welcome the return of Mollie Gray, who will play her first Test since suffering a serious knee-injury at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens in February.
NSW Country’s Katrina Barker will join Pomare in the halves, while Kayla Sauvao will form a centre combination with Williams.
Winger Nareta Marsters and fullback Samantha Treherne will join Murphy in the back-three.
In the reserves, Emily Robinson, Violeta Tupuola and Hana Ngaha will provide frontrow cover, while Rebecca Clough and Aisha Hewett will cover both lock and backrow.
Fenella Hake, Sarah Riordan and Hewson will provide cover for the backs.
Coach Verrell said the team has been hard at work since they came together at Narrabeen over a week ago. “We’ve put together our strongest team to take on the tournament hosts,” he said.
“We’ve made nine changes from the side that ran out against Canada in our final match of the Four Nations tour in New Zealand, and we added a fair amount of experience into the side with the return of our Sevens players and Mollie.
“There has been a lot of exposure of the women’s game locally in the lead-up to the tournament, and after a week of preparation in Ireland, the team are hungry to get out on the field.
“Our lead up to the 2017 tournament has been the best yet, with state based training and the Four Nations tournament providing us with a great platform to build from.
“Facing Ireland first up will be a challenge, but it will also provide our girls the chance to set the tone of the tournament and produce a solid performance against the home-side in front of their fans.”
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