Eight Wallaroos have the chance to complete a rare World Cup double when Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 kicks off in England next month.
Wallaroos coach John Manenti has included the majority of Australia's RWC Sevens winning team in his 26-player World Cup squad and the group also features five players who are returning for their third tilt at Women's Rugby's biggest prize, alongside four rookies who were unveiled today.
Reigning world champions Cheryl Soon, Debby Hodgkinson, Alex Hargreaves, Tobie McGann, Tui Ormsby, Nicole Beck, Tricia Brown and Ruan Sims each bring with them the invaluable experience and achievement of toppling New Zealand in the final of the inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens women's tournament in Dubai last March.
Goal to unite titles
Australia could become the first nation to unite the Sevens and 15-a-side Rugby World Cup titles, but have been handed a challenging assignment at the sixth edition of the tournament which will run from 20 August to 5 September.
The Wallaroos have been drawn in the same pool as three-time defending champions New Zealand, fellow southern hemisphere heavyweights South Africa and Six Nations side Wales.
ACT backrower Hargreaves firmly believes Australia's Sevens success will transfer into the traditional format of the game.
"Oh my gosh, I still remember the feeling of winning the Sevens World Cup and it was the best ever. If we were able to pull off the double by winning the Women's Rugby World Cup, it would be unbelievable," Hargreaves said.
"I definitely think our success in Sevens will shine through into 15s. We've learned how to pull a team together and more importantly, even though it was the shortened version of the game, we've learned how to beat New Zealand.
"The camaraderie within the 15s squad this year is unbelievable, to share the experience of winning the World Cup among this group I think would be even better than winning the Sevens crown."
With increasing depth across a number of positions in the side, coach Manenti has given the nod to NSW Country centre Megan Shanahan, Australian Services number 8-turned-prop Caroline Vakalahi and Queensland pair Cheyenne Campbell and Shannon Parry for the opportunity to earn their first caps.
"The rookies have all been in the system for a couple of years and playing with the higher level players has really accelerated their development," Manenti said.
"At the last World Cup in '06 we had 10 standout players and the rest were working really hard to catch up.
"This time around we have 30 who could have made the squad and everyone in the squad is capable of starting."
Manenti will name the Wallaroos captain when the team assembles
on 9 August.
Looking to improve on fifth
After finishing fifth in the Women's Rugby World Cup 1998 and again in 2002, the Wallaroos filled seventh position at the most recent event in Canada in 2006, where New Zealand beat England in the decider and France finished third.
The Wallaroos will open their WRWC campaign on Friday 20 August with a hit out against Wales at Surrey Sports Park before taking on New Zealand on Tuesday 24 August and finalising the pool rounds with their match against South Africa four days. The semi finals and final will be staged at Twickenham Stoop in London.
Pool A: New Zealand, Wales, Australia, South Africa
Pool B: England, USA, Ireland, Kazakhstan
Pool C: France, Canada, Scotland, Sweden
(top four on points progress to semis)
Wallaroos squad: (full player profiles available on http://www.rugby.com.au/fixtures_results/wallaroos/wallaroos_landing_page,28754.html)
Iliseva Batibasaga (QLD), Nicole Beck (NSW), Tricia Brown (QLD),
Cheyenne Campbell (QLD uncapped), Rebecca Clough (WA), Kristy
Giteau (ACT), Alexandra Hargreaves (ACT),
Ashleigh Hewson (ACT), Debby Hodgkinson (WA), Tobie McGann (NSWC), Danielle Meskell (NSW), Cobie-Jane Morgan (NSW), Lindsay Morgan (ACT), Tui Ormsby (NSW), Shannon Parry (QLD uncapped), Silei Poluleuligaga (QLD), Kate Porter (ASRU), Chris Ross (NSW), Se'ei Sa'u (QLD), Megan Shanahan (NSWC uncapped), Ruan Sims (NSW), Cheryl Soon (NSW), Rebecca Trethowan (NSWC), Caroline Vakalahi (ASRU uncapped), Margaret Watson (NSWC), Sharni Williams (ACT).
At a glance:
- Eight members of the World Cup winning Sevens team included in WRWC squad
- Five players returning for third WRWC - Ruan Sims, Cheryl Soon, Tui Ormsby, Debby Hodgkinson, Alex Hargreaves
- Kristy Giteau features in her first WRWC squad and potentially has the chance to complete a remarkable family double, alongside younger brother star Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau, by competing at Rugby World Cups in consecutive years
- Kate Porter is an Army Lieutenant and Caroline Vakalahi is an Australian Army Officer
- Ambulance officer Danielle Meskell will compete in her first WRWC three months shy of her 37th birthday and is one of six players who play club rugby for Warringah (NSW ) in the squad
- Tui Ormbsy works as a police officer, Ashley Hewson a correctional officer, Tobie McGann a radiation therapist and Sharni Williams is a mechanic