Super W will return for its fifth season this weekend as the Fijiana Drua prepare to make their historic debut in the tournament.
The Fijiana Drua will get their campaign underway against the Rebels on Saturday, but it is New South Wales Waratahs, who have won each of the four editions of Super W to date, who remain the team to beat in 2022.
They will hope to maintain that proud record between now and the grand final on 24 April, but the Waratahs will face stiff competition from the Reds, runners-up in all four seasons, Force, Rebels and Drua along the way.
And with Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022, on the horizon this season’s matches will be given extra significance as players attempt to find their form ahead of the showpiece tournament in New Zealand.
With that in mind, we take a look at five players who are set to star in both Super W 2022 and at RWC 2021.
Mana Furuta (Brumbies)
Furuta and international colleague Makoto Lavemai are in line to make history when the new season kicks off, as the first Japanese players to compete in Super W.
Brumbies coach Dan Hawke is hoping the duo can push his side to challenge defending champions, the Waratahs, who they face on Saturday, for the title.
Centre Furuta made her test debut at just 18 during the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2016. Although she did not feature at RWC 2017, she returned to the international stage in 2019 and was an ever-present during Japan’s end-of-year tour of Europe last November, scoring her first test try in the narrow defeat to Ireland.
Sereima Leweniqila (Drua)
Number eight Leweniqila is one of the most experienced players named in coach Senirusi Seruvakula’s 30-player squad for the Fijiana’s inaugural Super W campaign.
Leweniqila captained her country during the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship 2019, leading the Fijiana in the crucial wins against Samoa that secured Rugby World Cup qualification for the very first time.
She will hope to reprise that role when Fiji make their tournament debut at RWC 2021, but first Leweniqila – who also represented her country on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in October 2018 – will get a taste of the Super W when the new team get their campaign underway against the Rebels this weekend.
Jade Te Aute (Rebels)
Last season was a breakthrough one for young fly-half Te Aute, who featured in all three of the Rebels’ matches in her debut Super W campaign.
Although the Rebels lost each match, Te Aute impressed enough to be included in the Wallaroos’ 40-woman Players of National Interest (PONI) squad in July, at the age of just 17.
Game Week! 🔥— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) February 28, 2022
Super W returns to Burn City this weekend when our girls kick off their season against Fijiana Drua at Endeavour Hills Rugby Union Football Club on Saturday March 5 at 4:30 PM!
We. Can’t. Wait. 👊🏼#BurnCityLove | @RugbyVictoria pic.twitter.com/GwV7N86hFw
The Wallaroos have continued their preparation under Jay Tregonning this year and the young playmaker, who lined up in both the number 12 and 10 jerseys for the Rebels in 2021, will be keen to help improve her side’s results and keep her Rugby World Cup hopes alive.
Ivania Wong (Reds)
Another player who took her chance in 2021, winger Wong was named in the PONI squad having scored two tries in four Super W appearances.
Wong also excelled for her club side, Sunnybank last season, being named Women’s Player of the Year at the Queensland Premier Rugby awards.
She will hope to carry that form into 2022 as she targets both the Super W title and a place in Australia’s Rugby World Cup squad. The Reds finished second for the fourth year in a row in 2021, and Wong and her team-mates will be determined to go one better this time around.
Grace Hamilton (Waratahs)
Captain of the four-time champions, Waratah, Hamilton and her team-mates are in no mood to take their foot off the gas as Super W 2022 gets underway.
“We want to be successful, and we know that we've got to lift the bar,” she said ahead of the Waratahs’ season opener against the Brumbies on Saturday.
Number eight Hamilton, who made her test debut in 2016, played five matches and scored a try as the Wallaroos finished sixth at RWC 2017. She captained her country in the 2019 test series against both Japan and New Zealand, scoring a hat-trick against the former.
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