Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea did not miss! The Aussie women put on an extremely polished display against Japan, winning 66-0 in their second pool game. It…
The AFLW and NRLW might be bigger, better promoted and have more money but rugby’s women’s game, Super W, starts this week.
It is the beginning of the women’s rugby season with another big year for the Wallaroos who have at least eight Tests in 2023.
The Super W tournament sees the Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Rebels, Force and Fijiana Drua play each other once and compete in a finals series.
It all kicks off on Friday at Allianz Stadium (before the Waratahs v Chiefs game), finishing with the final on Saturday 6 May.
Hopefully on Friday the Tahs women will deliver the NSW club their first win at the new Allianz stadium.
In a Super W first, the Brumbies women play the Drua in Fiji on Saturday.
There are lots of questions ahead of this season. Will the Fijiana Drua again be dominant (probably)? How will the Waratahs go without some of their big guns, who are playing in the UK and Mahlia Murphy, who has gone to the NRLW? How much more competitive will the Rebels, Brumbies and Force be? Will rugby be able to keep at least some of the new young guns coming through?
The Drua have added a new dimension to the Super W, both on and off the field and captain Bitila Tawake is a great rugby ambassador.
The inclusion of players from New Zealand, Fiji and Japan should add more interest, experience and quality.
The Western Force have recruited Wallaroo Michaela Leonard from the Brumbies, who has just had a stint with the UK’s Exeter Chiefs. Japanese lock Yuna Sato, front-rower Natsuki Kashiwagi and Fijiana winger Rachel Laqeretabua are also playing for the Force this season.
The Rebels have also recruited Mia-Rae Clifford from AFLW.
On the flip side, of the 32 players in the Waratahs’ squad, 14 are new. The Tahs have a new captain, 23-year-old Piper Duck taking over from Grace Hamilton, and a core group of experienced players such as Georgina Friedrichs (Wallaroo player of 2022), Emily Robinson, Eva Karpani, Bridie O’Gorman, Sera Naiqama and Katrina Barker.
Youngsters to keep an eye on include 22-year-old back rower Leilani Nathan and 16-year-old fullback Caitlyn Halse.
There are plans to have a trans-Tasman competition with the New Zealand Super Rugby Aupiki teams in due course, as well as discussions to maybe get Japan involved.
While a trans-Tasman tournament is no doubt the destination, the Australian teams are probably not up to that stage yet. As we saw in the trials, while the Waratahs competed with the Kiwis, they were definitely at a higher level. Maybe a steppingstone will be a play off between the top Aupiki and Super W teams.