The Wallaroos will have an invaluable litmus test ahead of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, with a four-nations series announced on Wednesday.
Australia will take on England, Canada and New Zealand in the series in June, to be held across New Zealand.
Last year the Wallaroos played a two-Test series against the Black Ferns, including a Bledisloe Cup double header in Auckland, where they went down 67-3 before a 21-9 defeat two days later, but took plenty of value in their first Test series since 2014.
Captain Ash Hewson said that alone showed the need for the side to play more and said they were excited to have that chance, before heading to Ireland for August’s World Cup.
“Seeing the improvement from the first Test match to the second Test match made things move a little bit quicker,” she said.
“If we’re seeing that improvement in one week, we’re going to improve our chances of playing well at a World Cup." - Ash Hewson
“Regardless of world rankings, these are the top three teams in the world and there’s no better preparation than going up against them.”
England and Canada played off in the 2014 Women’s rugby World Cup final and the English have since become a fully professional outfit, giving Australia a benchmark to aspire to.
Hewson said the professionalism was already showing in England’s play, having watched them play during the Six Nations recently.
You can see in terms of the way they play their rugby, the structure,” she said.
“They are professional and can train together full-time and that’s something that only enhances your chances of being a better team.
“They’re an inexperienced side but we’re already seeing that (improvement) in the Six Nations and it’s a testament to England Rugby for giving them that opportunity.”
Hewson said they would have liked the chance to play on home soil ahead of August’s World Cup but the side is grateful to have a chance to play more Tests in a big year.
“To play any Test match - we are disappointed we don’t get to showcase women’s XVs in our country, it’s a shame,” she said.
“If people understood XVs and the commitment that we make so we can play at Test match level, it’d increase the support in our country but to play any Test match is a great opportunity.” - Ash Hewson
Australia’s Wallaroos squad members have been training in their own states over summer, with Hewson saying Christmas was the only real break they’ve had since that August series.
May’s national championships will be the main source of World Cup selection and Hewson said the competition for spots would be fierce.
“There’s quite a number of young girls in the squad and I’m pretty sure every single person is going to put their hand up.
“In any sport, especially elite level sport, if you’re fighting for positions it’s only going to improve the the level we’re going to play at.
Friday June 9 - Australia v England, Porirua Park, Wellington
Tuesday June 13 -Black Ferns v Australia, Rugby Park, Christchurch
Saturday June 17- Australia v Canada, Smallbone Park, Rotorua
The Australian Rugby Foundation is raising much needed funds for the Buildcorp Wallaroos as they prepare for the 2017 World Cup in August. Your generous donation will send the team to a pre-World Cup tournament against New Zealand, England and Canada in June for valuable preparation.