Stars ready to shine as Super W 3.0 gets underway
Photo: AJF Photography
Season three of the Buildcorp Super W competition kicks-off this evening, with reigning champions NSW Waratahs Women travelling down to Victoria to take on the Melbourne Rebels Women, in the first part of a double-header ahead of the Super Rugby clash between the Rebels and Waratahs.
The new season continues tomorrow evening in the nations’ capital, when another double-header sees the Brumbies Women host Rugby WA Women before the Brumbies take on the Highlanders at GIO Stadium.
All up, five of the 10 regular season games will be double-headers, with blockbuster clashes to follow in Sydney and Brisbane. Those games will be shown live on FoxSports, with every other game to be broadcast on Kayo Sports, RUGBY.com.au and the Rugby Xplorer app.
As with last year’s format, the top three teams after the regular season will qualify for the finals, with 2nd then playing 3rd for the right to take on the Minor Premiers in the Grand Final. NSW Waratahs Women have narrowly won two titles so far, edging out Queensland Women by just three points in both the 2018 and 2019 deciders.
“In its second season Buildcorp Super W went from strength to strength and culminated with another thrilling final between NSW and Queensland, showcasing the skill and physicality that has become synonymous with that rivalry,” said Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle.
“In 2019 we saw a new generation of players stand up across the competition and many were rewarded with higher honours, with 11 new players pulling on the Buildcorp Wallaroos jersey on the back of their performances in Buildcorp Super W.
“The success of the competition has also led to double-digit growth in female participation over the first two years of existence and as the competition grows, we expect this number to continue to rise. The challenge for the class of 2020 is back it up and go one better as the standard of the competition and rivalries continue to grow.”
The reigning champions are under new management this time out, with former assistant Campbell Aitken taking up the head honcho reigns from Matt Evrard. He is relishing the chance to guide an already successful side to greater achievements.
“New South Wales is spoilt for talent, but we also have some great systems in place to support the growth and development of our players,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved with a side full of young talent, coupled with some of the best players in the country. There’s certainly expectations on us to meet the high standards of previous seasons, but that’s a challenge myself and no doubt the wider squad will relish.”
NSW Waratahs Women lock Sera Naiqama on the new season – Video courtesy of NSW Rugby
Melbourne Rebels Women have been at the wrong end of the ladder in their first two seasons of Super W, but head coach Alana Thomas is convinced that they are in a better place in 2020, with a host of fresh faces on board.
“Preparations have gone well this year,” she affirms. “We had a really targeted approach to how we ran the pre-season with our camp and layout of sessions. There was a big focus on both the on and off-field culture of the team, and I feel this balance has got us in a really good space leading into round one.”
“The players have been working hard on the way we will play the game and know that we have a tough opponent in the Waratahs. But I think, at times, we get caught up focusing on the opposition and lose our way a touch. The focus has been on us as a team and how we want to play and express ourselves on the field. Our trial matches showed this was working and the group has a really good vibe to it.”
MELBOURNE REBELS WOMEN: 1. Janita Kareta; 2. Ashley Marsters; 3. Titilia Yabaki; 4. Brooke Saunders; 5. Tiarah Minns; 6. May Saaga; 7. Melanie Kawa; 8. Nawel Remini; 9. Georgia Cormick; 10. Meretiana Robinson (c); 11. Vani Vaaga; 12. Ashleigh Walker; 13. Nicola Emsley; 14. Jessica Rastrick; 15. Gabi Bryan
Replacements: 16. Eireni Nanai; 17. Indiana Lewis; 18. Piper Tuifao; 19. Annika Jamieson; 20. Norma Fuaiva’a; 21. Sheniqua Taula; 22. Georgina Utia; 23. Tyra Boysen-Auimatagai
NSW WARATAHS WOMEN: 1. Bridie O’Gorman; 2. Adiana Talakai; 3. Evelyn Horomia; 4. Noella Green; 5. Sera Naiqama; 6. Piper Duck; 7. Emily Chancellor; 8. Grace Hamilton (c); 9. Iliseva Batibasaga; 10. Pauline Piliae; 11. Courtney Frankl; 12. Katrina Barker; 13. Kennedy Cherrington; 14. Maya Stewart; 15. Chloe Leaupepe
Replacements: 16. Eva Karpani; 17. Oneata Schwalger; 18. Mikaela Trbojevich; 19. Jemima Henry; 20. Fi Jones; 21. Lilyann Mason-Spice; 22. Georgina Friedrichs; 23. Layne Morgan
Down in Canberra, Brumbies Women head coach Adam Butt can’t wait to get going as he looks to improve his side’s third place finish in 2019.
“We’re really excited to get our season underway, we’ve been working really hard during the pre-season and the women just can’t wait to get out there,” he said.
“We’ve got a really good mix of youth and experience across the side with the likes of Ella Ryan in the halves and then Rebecca Smyth who has played in a Rugby World Cup. It’s super exciting to be able to play at home in round one too, and I’m sure there’ll be a big crowd out there to support us and to stick around and watch the Super Rugby after.”
Across the Nullarbor, Rugby WA head coach Sebastian Delport has been working hard on gelling new combinations and improving the details of his side’s game ahead of the big kick-off.
“The team is excited to begin the 2020 campaign, they have worked incredibly hard to improve their fitness, develop their technical skills and tactical understanding,” he explained. “This week especially we have been putting the finishing touches on our game model for round one against the Brumbies at GIO.
“Our focus during the selection of the match-day squad was on developing cohesion amongst the various combinations within the squad. With so many new combinations and a number of players making their debuts, we wanted to strike a balance between youth and experience, we feel we have done that well for the Brumbies game on Saturday.”
BRUMBIES WOMEN: 1. Krystal Fyfe; 2. Harriet Elleman; 3. Louise Burrows; 4. Emily Sogal; 5. Michaela Leonard (c); 6. Emma Masi; 7. Rebecca Smyth; 8. Zali Waihape-Andrews; 9. Jane Garraway (c); 10. Ella Ryan; 11. Darcy Read; 12. Sammie Wood; 13. Pesi Palu; 14. Gabrielle Petersen; 15. Talei Qalo Wilson
Replacements: 16. Tania Ofamasaga; 17. Peta Cox; 18. Iris Verebalavu; 19. Grace Sullivan; 20. Pearl Rakete; 21. Phoebe Loughhead; 22. Claudia Obst; 23. Ainsley Scrivener
RUGBY WA WOMEN: 1. Hineana Dando; 2. Darryl Wickliffe; 3. Freida Ah-Sam; 4. Katie Barnes; 5. Rebecca Clough; 6. Taylavie Forst Kelemete; 7. Taylah Eastwood; 8. Neesha Barrett; 9. Ayisha Wigley; 10. Trilleen Pomare; 11. Dallys Tini; 12. Ariana Hira-Herangi; 13. Taj Heald; 14. Claudia Neilson; 15. Langley Sesega
Replacements: 16. Sera Ah-Sam; 17. Chrystal Asiata; 18. Yolanda Forsthye; 19. Emysen Robinson; 20. Chrystal Walters; 21. Moana Paul; 22. Cara Gleave; 23. Paihau Pomare*
2020 Buildcorp Super W Draw (all times are local)
Friday 14 February
Melbourne Rebels v NSW Waratahs Women, 4.35pm, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday 15 February
Brumbies Women v Rugby WA Women, 4.35pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 22 February
Rugby WA Women v Queensland Reds, Success Regional Sporting Facility, 4.00pm
Melbourne Rebels v Brumbies Women, Mars Stadium, Ballarat, 12.10pm
Friday 28 February
NSW Waratahs Women v Brumbies Women, Bankwest Stadium, 4.35pm
Saturday 29 February
Queensland Reds v Melbourne Rebels, Suncorp Stadium, 3.35pm
Saturday 7 March
Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs Women, Ballymore, 3.00pm
Sunday 8 March
Rugby WA v Melbourne Rebels, Kingsway Sporting Complex, 3.30pm
Saturday 14 March
NSW Waratahs Women v Rugby WA Women, Sydney University, 3.25pm
Sunday 15 March
Brumbies Women v Queensland Reds, GIO Stadium, 1.15pm
Saturday 21 March
2nd placed team v 3rd placed team
Saturday 28 March
First placed team v winner of Play Off
*Venue to be confirmed