Walla-rookies backed to "bring the energy" in crucial Fijiana clash

Fri, Jul 5, 2024, 4:30 AM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey

Wallaroos coach Jo Yapp and chief playmaker Arabella McKenzie have challenged their squad to "bring the energy" ahead of Saturday's crucial clash with Fiji.

Eager to arrest a three-game losing streak, Yapp has sought a spark at the selection table with ACT flyer Biola Dawa and Reds livewire Nat Wright set to make their debuts.

Tickets to Saturday's Wallaroos-Wallabies double-header in Sydney available here!

In the pack, returning Wallaroos Player of the Year Eva Karpani adds plenty of punch with rookie front rowers Allana Sikimeti and Tiarna Molloy offering cover while uncapped backrower Lydia Kavoa will be tasked of matching Fijiana's intensity late in the piece after a standout training week.

"This week's about energy for us and she (Lydia) brings so much energy to the group as a person and as a player," Yapp told media this week.

"Eva has gone away and worked exceptionally hard … she's very deserving of her opportunity. Biola has had some really standout performances with the Brumbies and you can see her work rate off the ball has been excellent."

"Maya (Stewart) won't make it back for the next two Tests … (and) Biola's been training well so it's an opportunity for her. (Maya)'s been sort of guiding her through this and Biola's a good attacking threat in her own right."

"Nat's been training really well, she does give us that real running threat and is really busy both sides of the ball so excited to see her come on."

McKenzie, 25, is eager to reap the rewards of a dominant pack in what shapes a milestone match for the Lightning Ridge product.

McKenzie will notch her 25th Wallaroos cap against Fijiana and has backed a bounce-back performance up front to help unlock the likes of Dawa, Desiree Miller and Georgie Friedrichs out wide.

"Obviously PAC 4 was disappointing but as Jo said, the theme of the week has been energy and the girls have been training really well," McKenzie said.

"We've got some of the best forwards in the world so once they get moving and we get that momentum, it's really easy for us backs to take those opportunities at the line."

The Wallaroos kick off against Fiji at 4:45pm AEST live, ad-free and on-demand via Stan Sport.

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