Beating England in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup could have huge benefits for the game in Australia.
Described as the toughest mission in rugby, the Wallaroos will face the Red Roses in their first knockout match of the tournament on Sunday.
As the world’s No.1 team, England are the big favorites for the clash at Auckland’s Waitakere Stadium.
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However, the Aussies will be hoping to pull off one of rugby’s biggest upsets.
Speaking ahead of the all-important Test match, Wallaroos assistant coach Sione Fukofuka said a win would be “massive” for the sport.
“We understand, and I think everyone understands, how good England are,” Fukofuka said.
“To be the team that puts them under pressure and converts that into a result would be exceptional.
“It also gives us a big footprint for women’s rugby in Australia.
“Obviously there’s a lot of work that’s been done to try to introduce our game to younger audiences. It’s starting to pick up steam.”
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Mahalia Murphy, who is set to make her first start in this year’s Rugby World Cup from the bench, echoed Fukofuka’s sentiment.
She said a win against England would do women’s rugby a world of good in Australia, not least because the 2029 edition of the Rugby World Cup will be held in Australia.
“It’s definitely huge,” Murphy said.
“Our team has worked really hard this year to really do our best to perform for Australian women’s rugby.
“Especially having the Rugby World Cup in Australia in 2029, it will only give the nation awareness of our game and support for this World Cup.”
Fukofuka drew parallels between Australia’s tournament opener against New Zealand and the team’s energy.
He said there was a belief within the team that they could be giant killers.
“As with New Zealand’s first game at the Eden Park Test, there was a very slow build-up over the week, but you could feel that energy running through the girls during the back-end, Thursday and Friday in particular,” he explained.
“It started to build yesterday and you can see there are girls hungry enough to go perform on the big stage at their best.”
On Friday, the Wallaroos announced their starting roster.
Layne Morgan will start at fullback ahead of Iliseva Batibasaga, who has worn the No.9 jersey since the start of the tournament.
Lori Cramer has also moved from full-back to left wing, meaning Pauline Piliae-Rasabale will slot into the No.15 shirt.
After losing to New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup opener, Australia have since won victories over Scotland and Wales.
England go into Sunday’s quarter-final on a 28-game unbeaten streak dating back to 2019.
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