Suspension and injuries force Wallaroos into changes for showdown with in-form French foes


The Wallaroos have made three forced changes as they look to stop powerhouses France in the second round of the WXV1 tournament in New Zealand.

The teams will line up on Saturday at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, with France coming off an 18-17 upset victory over the world champion Black Ferns in the opening round.

The Australians fell to World Cup finalists England 42-7 in their round one clash last Friday.

Coach Jay Tregonning has had to shuffle his line-up, with suspended lock Annabelle Codey replaced in the starting side by Sera Naiqama.

Our team to take on France ????

????️ Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
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— Wallaroos (@WallaroosRugby) October 25, 2023

Winger Maya Stewart has been ruled out through concussion, with Desiree Miller elevated from the bench for her first Test start, lining up in the No.14 jumper.

Versatile outside back Melanie Wilks has been included on the bench, set to make her Test debut, while back-rower Leilani Nathan replaces injured Ashley Marsters in the reserves.

Wilks is a back-to-back premiership winner for Bond University in the Queensland Premier Rugby competition in 2022 and 2023, and has represented the Reds in XVs and 7s.

“We’ve had to make a number of forced changes to the line-up, and we feel Wilks has earned the opportunity following her performance in training,” Tregonning said.

“She has been around the Wallaroos group for a number of years and part of several touring squads … it’s recognition of the hard work she has continued to put in over a number of years.”

Tregonning said the Wallaroos acknowledged the challenge France presented but had faith in their own strengths.

“France had a good win over the Black Ferns in Wellington last weekend and we expect them to be full of confidence, but we’re confident in our game plan as well,” he said.

“Responding from the game against England and showing good execution against France is our priority.”

Wallaroos team: Brianna Hoy, Tania Naden, Eva Karpani, Sera Naiqama, Michaela Leonard (c), Siokapesi Palu, Emily Chancellor, Kaitlan Leaney, Layne Morgan, Carys Dallinger, Ivania Wong, Arabella McKenzie, Georgina Friedrichs, Desiree Miller, Faitala Moleka. Res: Adiana Talakai, Bree-Anna Cheatham, Emily Robinson, Atasi Lafai, Leilani Nathan, Sarah Dougherty, Cecilia Smith, Melanie Wilks.

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