Newcastle rugby star Maya Stewart is set to run out on the wing for Australia A when they play their first game in the Oceania Championship against the undefeated Black Ferns development squad this Friday in Fiji.
Australia will be set to rely on their training regime as they come face-to-face with a Black Ferns squad that demolished Fiji 53-0 in the tournament opener, after their Tuesday match against Tonga was cancelled.
A member of the Tonga side developed measles symptoms, which led to the entire team being withdrawn from the tournament following a decision from the Fiji Ministry of Health, and the World Health Organisation.
Newcastle’s winger will now play her first game of the tournament on Friday, November 22. Kickoff is penned in for 12.30pm AEDT at Churchill Park in Lautoka.
Stewart has already had a stellar year in rugby, shining for the local Waratahs in the Newcastle & Hunter Rugby Women’s premiership as they marched to their second consecutive title, and the NSW Waratahs as they did the same.
Her Australia A starting berth also gives Stewart a chance to impress Wallaroos head coach Dwayne Nestor, who said he will be keeping an eye on breakout performances in the Oceania tournament as he begins to build his 2021 World Cup roster.
“This tournament gives us an excellent opportunity to expose more players to the wider Wallaroos program,” Nestor said of the development tourney.
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“2020 is a very important year for the Wallaroos as we put together the final building blocks for the 2021 Rugby World Cup. More game time is crucial and I am looking forward to this tour bringing out more players that can compete at Test levels.”
The Oceania Championship in Fiji is a 2021 World Cup qualification event, but because Australia and New Zealand have already qualified, the two representative sides will only be playing pool matches at the tournament.
Australia A’s Gameday Squad: 1. Toa Filimoehala, 2. Averyl Mitchell, 3. Christina Sekona, 4. Michaela Leonard C, 5. Sera Naiqama, 6. Kirby Sefo, 7. Fi Jones, 8. Piper Duck, 9. Georgia Cormick, 10. Arabella Mckenzie, 11. Alana Elisaia, 12. Georgina Friedrichs, 13. Kennedy Cherrington, 14. Maya Stewart, 15. Courtney Hodder. Reserves: 16. Tasmin Sheppard, 17. Bree-Anna Cheatham, 18. Eva Karpani, 19. Tiarah Minns, 20. Grace Kemp, 21. Remi Wilton, 22. Zahara Temara, 23. Sammie Wood.