Speed key as Wallaroos embrace 'nothing to lose' attitude

Fri, Oct 28, 2022, 6:23 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallaroos fullback Lori Cramer recounts how the First Nations Yugambeh anthem came to fruition.

The Wallaroos are hoping their up-tempo brand of football can stun England as they welcome the challenge of facing the world's best.

Jay Tregonning's plan to take on England was clear to see in his team selections, elevating Layne Morgan to the starting side in place of Iliseva Batibasaga.

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“We know we need to play a quick game, and we think Layne [Morgan] just has that little bit of extra speed for us to get the ball out for us,” Tregonning said.

“I am stoked to be out there in the starting side with the girls, it means that my players around me and my coaches have a lot of belief in me,” Morgan added.

“We always know to leave the jersey in a better place so no matter if it's me or Ili, we know that we're going to do our best.”

Ivania Wong's absence with a hamstring strain is a big blow but the return of Pauline Piliae-Rasambale gives them an extra playmaking element and boot to help combat the likes of Zoe Harrison and Helena Rowland.

Tregonning also opted to retain Grace Kemp in the second row, a late elevation from the Wales game, giving them explosive power across the park.

This was recognised by England coach Simon Middleton, presented with his own challenge of dealing with a style of play they have rarely faced across their 28-game winning streak.

“They play a different brand of game to what we normally face,” Middleton said via World Rugby.

“They have got a good standard of their game and how they want to play their game. 

“The speed which they play at is the thing which we have been looking at more than anything.”

Middleton also conceded the 'fear of losing' helps drive the side, knowing the pressure that sits on the side to convert years of dominance into a World Cup title.

For the Wallaroos it's the opposite, embracing a similar 'no pressure' attitude to what worked against the Black Ferns in the first half.

“It’s a massive challenge this week, we have nothing to lose but everything to gain,” captain Shannon Parry believes.

“They are the world’s best team, we have nothing to lose. We want to take the opportunity to play the best in the world and see how we go.”

This comes with full knowledge the Wallaroos have been far from their best in the tournament.

They've admitted they have wasted a bevvy of opportunities within the group stages as their in-22 conversion rate sits just under 10% in their past two games.

However, the difference from earlier in the year is clear to see as they start to find ways to close out those games, hoping they put it all together when they need it the most.

“We know we have a lot of game within us,” Tregonning said.

"We have left lots of points out on the field in the last two games and if we know and get our structures right, we will be in with a shot. 

“There’s confidence within the group but we understand the opponent we are playing and what a task that’s going to be but we’re confident if we get the task right, we’re going to be more than competitive.”

“You haven’t seen the best out of the Wallaroos and if we can play at our best, we’ll be putting in a good performance," Parry added.

“We’ve ground out those two wins and it’s a testament of character to have still won whilst not playing your best and I hope this week we can put in the performance we’re capable of.

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