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Australia vs Cook Islands
2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup, November 16
|Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla, NSW|
The Australian Jillaroos get their Women’s Rugby League World Cup campaign underway, taking on an unknown quantity in the Cook Islands. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4pm (AEDT).
The tournament consists of six teams, split into two groups of three. Each team plays the other in their pool, and one crossover match to make three matches in a very tight seven-day window.
From there, the top two teams from each group qualify for the semi-final, the winners playing a final which is being classified as a curtain raiser to the men’s match at Suncorp Stadium on December 2.
Australia are defending champions, and despite the growth of the women’s game, red-hot favourites to go back-to-back.
Their biggest rivals will be New Zealand (in Group B) and England, who they will play in their second match on Sunday afternoon.
The Jillaroos have once again named a strong squad for the World Cup, although with so much footy to be played in less than two weeks, they have rested some established stars from the first game, player management being one of the key issues facing all these teams.
Ruan Sims will sit out the first game, as will Renae Kunst. The spine is more or less as expected though, with halves Ali Brigginshaw and Caitlin Moran joined by hooker Brittany Breayley and fullback Nakia Davis-Walsh.
If they can link and make the most of their opportunities, then there are plenty of points to be scores for the green and gold.
The Jillaroos beat the New Zealand Ferns convincingly in the mid-year Test this year, and there are very few questioning the fact they are the best team in the world.
They will have a fitness and talent advantage over the Cook Islands, who we don’t know a whole lot about.
The key point to take from the Cook Islands squad is that Brad Takairangi’s sister, Kiana will be linking up for the Moana. The fullback will need to have a big influence on the game alongside halves Lydia Turua-Quedley and Manea Poa-Maoate.
As with any Pacific island team, the forward pack will need to do a huge turn of work, but even then, they should be outpowered by the physical Australians.
This could be a shelling. The Jillaroos will be keen to rotate players and work on combinations though, so it could be over by halftime with a very quiet second half to follow.
Jillaroos by 30.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of the Jillaroos World Cup opener from 4pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to drop a comment in the section below.