10 Reasons the Jillaroos Will Give You Goosebumps in the ANZAC Test
By Tarah Westera
1. Channel 9’s Coverage
It’s not live yet, but I’m not complaining. For the first time our Women’s side will be given a time slot worthy of their potential (straight after the men’s Test on Friday Night Footy) and this match will light up the ratings. It’s a chance for the NRL and the Networks to realise the potential this type of clash can have on their audience numbers. Cricket and Soccer have shown recently the impact these games are having so let’s see how this head to head rates…I’m forecasting really well but let’s #watchthisspace.
2. Who Will Stand Up?
Australia is missing its two longstanding forwards in Renee Kunst and Steph Hancock (Captain). Both noticeable World Champions are out injured and the fairly inexperienced outfit (five test debutants) has previously looked to these two prominent competitors to lead the way. I know the consistent hard hitting Heather Ballinger will lead from the front, she’ll be determined to top the tackle count at the final siren, but my eye is also on Simaima (Mima) Taufa; she’s no stranger to the opposition and has already put her hand up to make the aggressive metres down the middle and will inspire the team with every hit up. The heavily strapped NSW prop has not had a great run with injuries but from all reports will be ready to fire come Friday. Combined with Heather’s defence and work rate, passionate QLD coach Brad Donald agrees Mima is a key attacking forward selection and these hard hitters are the #onestowatch
3. Ru Hu!
If you don’t know who Ruan Sims is then you’ve been hiding under a rock. Ruan, an NRL Ambassador, dual international and Wold Cup Winning Player has been deservedly named Captain of the Jillaroos for the ANZAC clash. I know Ruan well and she won’t take this responsibility lightly. From a young age, she has lined up in backyard footy against bothers Ashton, Tariq and Korbin (they say she hit the hardest). Competitiveness runs in her blood and Ru will undoubtedly have adrenalin filled with emotion when she runs out on Energy Australia Stadium, an arena in which her Knights playing brothers will be more familiar with competing. She is no stranger to the spotlight and will relish in the hype leading up to this moment. I have no doubt she will unleash with immediate impact and naturally lead with confidence and professionalism #teamsims
4. The Arm Wrestle
The Kiwis have the size and strength, they will stand tall with confidence and attitude as they perform their traditional Haka at the onlooking Jillaroos. They have a remarkable mental edge (I know I’ve stood there) and will look to intimidate a squad they know is without its stalwart forwards. Even before the whistle they will play an incredible power game, from the kick off they will endeavour to outmuscle the Jillaroos and if they get a roll on, their second phase play will hurt the Aussies and stopping that momentum would be difficult. Their asset is their comparable size and are clearly the bigger opposition but could this also be their weakness? #anyonesgame
5. Blues Clues
The key to this relatively new look Jillaroos squad is the combination of the 1,6 & 7, and for the first time, these position are all held by NSW and they all play week in and week out for Cronulla Caringbah. Although the halves are relatively inexperienced against their opponents, their slight and speedy builds could be a deadly combination, IF they run. If Australia can weather the Ferns initial early storm, look for Maddie Studdon to control the kicking game which has seen recent success down the left side. Maddie & Allana Ferguson will look to capitalise on tired opposition in the latter stages of the halves and their passing game could open up the game for talented and capable World Cup Fullback Sam Bremner. She is the icing on the halves cake and is the fittest player on the park; she is tough, aggressive and her talk out the back will be imperative. If you think she’s too small to take on the NZ forwards then you’ve obviously have never seen her play, this girl has arguably the best one-on-one defence in the game (even though she’d never say that). The little master of opportunity will open up the game and, if their club combination can continue its success on the international stage, you never know what these three could produce. I’d #watchthatinsidepass
6. The Sleeping Giant
A wise coach once said to me that the women’s game is key to the growth of the NRL and he is absolutely correct. Let’s watch how many mothers, daughters and sisters watch this game and think to themselves I want to play too, and they can. Behind the brand of the NRL is a dedicated group of believers that continue to work hard to get Women’s Rugby League the attention it deserves. This is our national sport, we should be able to grow up playing the sport we were raised watching. I know these girls love every minute out on that field and are paving the way for every female who ever dreamt of putting in a mouth guard and buying a pair of footy boots. Get down to your local club and ask about a women’s side, you may even want to start one. Women’s teams are high on the agenda and clubs are starting to welcome the interest, come on…why wait? You may just be the next Jillaroo! #womensrugbyleague
7. Our Indigenous Superstars
Now this is what I’m really excited about!! The Indigenous v All Stars clash earlier this year was always going to be a special game. The aftermath saw talented additions to the Jillaroos squad in the likes of Emma Young, Casey Karkils, Libby Cook-Black and Caitlyn Moran. Young produced the hit of the year, stopping Jillaroos Captain Hancock centimetres before the line, when she looked almost certain to score. Young has been rewarded with a bench spot and will be welcomed back into the squad after a couple of seasons off following her part in the World Cup squad of 2013. Karklis and Moran are two of my favourite players, their small frames are deceitful and they have speed to burn. These two could take down any Kiwi one-on-one, every day of the week. Donald stated Moran (18th man) if given the chance will revel in the physicality of the test arena and he believes would put her body on the line without thought or fear. This kid will be a long stay in the National Team if fit – I’ve been a fan for a long time. Cook-Black is a straight forward and multi-skilled North Queenslander, her size and visible strength will be a welcome addition to the side. She has the ability to cover the forwards and the backs making her a capable utility off the bench, if she’s given the opportunity her attitude and determination will be noticeable. #lookout
8. Bega is Better
I’ve been a fan of the humble, tall and prominent second rower, since she ran over the top of me in our Interstate clash that saw her score a brilliant solo 50m try. Kezie Apps has held her position for a few years now in the National Squad and so she should, she always has a few line break and tackle break stats to her name each match and when she hits the line, she’s hard to stop (hence the solo try). I think if she gets her hands on the ball more the game will open up and our scoring opportunities can come off the back of her storming runs. She will go all day, why? Because she’s from Bega and the whole town adores her. She’s one of the most determined and dangerous players I know. I’m glad she’s on our side. #saycheese
9. It’s 50/50
The Jillaroos are the lightest they have ever been and this isn’t a bad thing, this squad is fit and confident. They are more resourced than they have been before and slowly but surely their requests to match their male counterparts are being fulfilled, the girls are ready, ok so maybe its 60/40. If they can move the Kiwis around and tire them early, the speedsters out wide could be given the space they need to capitalise off the back of the engine room and what a show that would be. I’m obviously bias but I have confidence in these girls, all 18 of them. They have been picked because they deserve their spots, they have worked hard and above all they believe in their ability. In a match that is dedicated to our ANZACS I’m sure in the back of their minds there was no harder battle then what our country men and women went through to ensure our freedom. I’m sure etched in the history books will be some memorable individual performances but at the end of the day, focus, determination and team work will win the contest. Club coach Rob Brough who is at the forefront of numerous Jillaroos success stories states “whatever it takes” and his track record shows he knows what it takes. I think the Aussie girls are ready, I can feel it and I think we need to support them and let them know we are cheering for them, where ever you are. Go and like the Jillaroos Facebook Page, buy a ticket and get down to watch live or switch to Channel 9 and show everyone that in the Greatest Game of All, there’s plenty of room left for the Women. They deserve it. #LetsGoJillaroos.
10. They’re Bloody Awesome