Australia have named three uncapped players in their squad for the WXV 1 opener against England in Wellington on Friday.
Brianna Hoy, Sarah Dougherty and Desiree Miller will pull on a Wallaroos jersey for the first time, but despite the Red Roses’ fearsome reputation Hoy says that she’s “more focused on the girls around me wearing the same jersey”.
“I’m always going to have someone on my left and right. There’s obviously excitement and a few nerves in there,” she added. “It was great energy in the jersey presentation.”
The 23-year-old loose-head prop will start in the Wallaroos pack at Sky Stadium, in a special reunion on the field with childhood friend and number eight Kaitlan Leaney.
Both players grew up together and Hoy said that being together in the gold jersey fulfilled a wish they’d had since their days together playing junior rugby in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.
Hoy said: "It's pretty amazing, we were talking the other day and we came across a text message conversation of when we were in high school and we were like, ‘Wouldn't it be great one day to play for the Wallaroos or even to just play rugby on a regular basis’.”
Meanwhile, scrum-half Dougherty is in line for an international debut with a spot on the replacements’ bench. She said that she will “bring some speed and a bit of electricity”, while Miller will look to come on and inject some fresh legs in the outside backs.
Australian coach Jay Tregonning said that England would be a different prospect to New Zealand, who they have already faced twice this year. He stressed the excitement felt by his players heading into the historic WXV 1 opening match.
"We know the Black Ferns like to attack from anywhere and are a bit more unpredictable, whereas England, we kind of know what's there and it's obviously down to us to try to stop that,” Tregonning said.
"We've been working hard during the week from a set-piece point of view as well, where again, it's an awesome opportunity for the Wallaroos to play against Six Nations teams and for this to occur every year to increase the experience of the group is outstanding."
Tregonning has named Michaela Leonard as Wallaroos captain once again, with the 11-test second-row saying that even though they will go in as underdogs against last year’s Rugby World Cup finalists, they are relishing the challenge.
"I've said a few times over the last few months that we want to keep challenging ourselves to be the best in the world and to do that we need to compete with the best in the world," Leonard said.
"Getting the opportunity to play against England, France and Wales during this campaign is just going to help build on what we've learned the past few months against the Black Ferns and help put us in good stead to challenge those world standings and keep moving up those rankings.”