Super W to help Wallaroos close gap on Kiwis
INCREASING the national competition from as little as 20-minute halves to 80-minute games - and sometimes more - in the Super W has given the Wallaroos a genuine shot at New Zealand in a two-Test showdown in August.
That was the view of Wallaroos forward Grace Hamilton after it was announced Australia's womens team will take on the world champion Black Ferns in two double-header Test matches in Sydney and Auckland; prior to the Wallabies and All Blacks' games on August 18 and August 25.
The news is another positive step for womens rugby in Australia and comes after a successful first Super W season finished last week. NSW claimed the title over Queensland with thrilling golden-point win.
The intense battle capped a six-week season where Australia's women's XVs players not only displayed a high standard, but improved markedly every week with consistent training and games.
Prior to Super W, Hamilton said womens XVs players played club footy and in brief spurts of elite competition; some of which was cut in half.
"(In Super W) we are not just playing at club level, we are playing at state level and we are getting those 80-minute games," Hamilton said.
"Our national competition used to be over three days and we were playing 20-minute halves sometimes. So playing full 80-minute games is definitely important for us leading into Test matches and building that platform for the Wallaroos."
The Black Ferns are a dominant side in the mould of their male counterparts, and they beat Australia 44-17 last year before later winning the Women's World Cup.
But Australian players have been hardening minds and bodies since in the Super W, and the experience of knife-edge battle in a 97-minute Super W grand final is invaluable.
"We definitely benefit. I know I have personally," Hamilton said.
"Knowing what to do in those moments, you just have to pick yourself off the ground even though you are busted and keep going. Just keep building to do the best for your team and the people standing beside you."
Keeping the Super W momentum going is now the goal, however. Wallaroos coach Dwayne Nestor will name an extended train-on squad on Thursday, and players will train at their states along with playing club footy.
There are calls for the Super W competition to be extended to two rounds, instead of one round.
"I thought the length was fine," Hamilton said.
"We are going from last year where we played for three days, so for us six weeks of that kind of level of rugby is really important for us. And it's a building block, so it's only going to get bigger and better."