St.George Queensland Reds head coach Moana Virtue has named a 28-woman squad for the team’s pre-season match against the Fijiana at Ballymore this Sunday, 16 February.
A total of 18 players within the squad have previous Super W experience, with 10 uncapped women set to earn their first opportunity before Queensland begin their 2020 Super W campaign in Perth next weekend against the Rugby WA Women.
With newly announced captain Lori Cramer unavailable for selection as she overcomes an injury niggle, lock Kiri Lingman will lead the side in their first hit out.
Lingman will be joined in the tight-five by a host of Queensland regulars, while in the backrow, former captain Kirby Sefo will make her return to the Women’s XV scene after taking a year off in 2019, while Okeroa Manihera (Sunnybank) and Natassja Purontakanen (University of Queensland) will feature for the first time.
Regular halves Cobie-Jane Morgan and Lavinia Gould will steer the side around the park, while Alana Elisaia will shift from her regular spot on the wing into the centres, where she’ll be joined by Wallaroo Sarah Riordan, who missed last year’s Super W campaign through injury.
In the back three, former Rugby WA Women’s star Courtney Hodder will start at fullback, with Ivania Wong and Emily Bass named on the wings. Hodder was one of the most exciting prospects to emerge from the first Super W season in 2018, however she missed 2019 through injury.
In the reserves, prop Bree-Anna Cheatham returns to the Queensland fold having represented Melbourne in 2019, while mum-of-five Hilisha Samoa is set to play her first Rugby since the 2017 Women’s World Cup in Ireland, where she was named the Wallaroos’ ‘best and fairest’.
Newcomers Lesa Maatafa (Sunnybank), Aleena Greenhalgh (Wests) and Canadian International Gabby Senft (Wests) will provide cover for the locks and backrow, while 16-year-old scrumhalf Destiny Brill, who was part of the Queensland Youth Sevens side that won Nationals last year, will be in-line for her first appearance for the state in XVs.
Newcomer and New Zealander Hasting Leiataua will cover flyhalf and the centres, while Wests centre Maerea Tupai and National Touch representative Melanie Wilks have also been named.
Head coach Moana Virtue said: “It’s been a long pre-season and the girls are really looking forward to playing, especially against an international team in Fiji.
“The team are building, we still have a lot of work to do, but we’ll bring a lot of new faces into the fold this weekend, which is exciting as we look to cement our selections ahead of our first Super W game in Perth.
“This is the first time Queensland will have the chance to play a proper trial game before the Super W season kicks off, which is an exciting prospect for the players and us as coaches, as we get the chance to try different combinations and give players an opportunity.
“This is a great chance for Queensland fans to see the girls in action at Ballymore, against quality opposition, so I’d encourage everyone to come along and support the team.”
The Reds’ clash with the Fijiana kicks off at 3:00pm on Sunday at Ballymore. Entry will be a gold coin donation, with funds raised going towards the Queensland Women’s program.