Rugby league’s spotlight shines on New Zealand this weekend for the 2016 Auckland Nines. Stepping into the festival after a star turn last year are the Australian Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns women’s teams, with a three match series across the weekend.
By
Sarah Leach

Source:
Zela
6 Feb 2016 - 9:00 AM  UPDATED 6 Feb 2016 - 9:00 AM

Sixteen teams from the NRL will be represented in what is labelled “The Greatest Weekend”, and last year, rugby league fans were left in awe after the inaugural Nine’s tournament as much to what the women brought to the event as to how their favourite male stars performed.

Last year’s contest between the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns proved a hit and now it’s an important fixture.

The Ferns won that series 2-1 and this weekend the Aussie girls are looking to avenge the defeat. The last time the two sides met was in May this year in the 13-a-side match where Australia ran home a win 22-14.

Coach Steve Folkes said the squad was made up of a blend of experience and youth, which was an important step as the team looked to build on an impressive 2015.

"The girls met for a 2-day training camp in Brisbane ahead of this weekend and I’m excited by how far the girls developed their skills, pace, mental ability and ball work in only a couple of days," Folkes said.

"The team selected will learn from each other and more importantly, will balance each other out.

"They are a committed bunch of women and I have no doubt that they will fly the flag proudly for Australia against our old rivals on the field, the Kiwis."

Captain Steph Hancock will again lead the team in 2016 and reflected on the team's achievements over the course of a few short years. 

"We have gone from World Cup Champions in 2013 into a Test Match win last year against New Zealand and now we have another three match series ahead," Hancock said.

"It is a great honour to pull on the green and gold for your country and our girls have worked really hard to put themselves in the best shape, both physically and mentally, for the season ahead."

 A trio of talent will debut for Australia this weekend.

Allana Ferguson (NSW), Corban McGregor (NSW) and Kody House (QLD) will join an extended squad of 16 to take on the Kiwis at Eden Park in a series of three matches during the Nines and with the third and final match played as the curtain raiser to the men’s decider.

The Jillaroos are getting ready to light up Eden Park! Matches will be televised on Fox SportsNSW Times:Game 1:...

Posted by Australian Jillaroos on Thursday, 4 February 2016

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Jillaroos squad for Auckland nines

1 Allana Ferguson, 2 Annette Brander, 3 Brittany Breayley, 4 Casey Karklis, 5 Chelsea Baker, 6 Corban McGregor, 7 Jenni-Sue Hoepper, 8 Karina Brown, 9 Kezie Apps, 10 Kody House, 11 Maddie Studdon, 12 Renae Kunst, 13 Ruan Sims, 14 Sam Hammond, 15 Steph Hancock (captain), 16 Vanessa Foliaki.