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Players push for World Cup selection as Australian PM’s XIII Women’s post huge win against PNG

NRLW stars showcased their talents during Australia’s PM’s XIII Women team’s 64-6 victory over the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister’s XIII Women on Sunday, with many pleading their cases for a Jillaroos jersey in the upcoming World Cup.

“Nobody’s been picked yet and (they’re) sticking their hands up tonight,” said Jillaroos coach Brad Donald  

Players like Jaime Chapman, Shenae Ciesiolka, and Gold Coast Titans cult-favourite Steph Hancock were among the players to put their hand up for a spot in the final squad for next month’s World Cup in England.

40-year-old Hancock was lured back as captain in Sunday’s historic Prime Minister’s XIII encounter with Papua New Guinea, the first to be played on Australian soil.

Leading a side featuring five rookies out of the Indigenous Women’s Academy in Canberra, Hancock scored a try during the powerful win.

Hancock says she’s retired “20,000 times” but Jillaroos coach Brad Donald has left the door ajar for one more comeback at next month’s World Cup.

“Steph’s first World Cup was in 2003 … it’s been a long journey and the next week or two is going to be really long .. for those waiting on selection,” said Donald.

Aware of the stacked field of front-rowers putting their cases forward, Hancock skirted around the prospect of helping Australia chase a third-straight Cup.

“I’ve retired 20,000 times,” she said. 

“I absolutely love this, this jersey. And I’m so honoured that Brad gave me another chance back in it. It was so enjoyable.”

Brisbane winger Ciesiolka scored three of the 12 tries against a side featuring many players who hadn’t even been to Australia before and not played as a side since an upset win over England three year ago.

It was a dominant display from the Australians, putting on a 12 tries to one masterclass in front of the Suncorp Stadium crowd.

The Orchids improved in the second half, fullback Joanne Lagona showing a clean set of heals out of dummy-half to beat four defenders for a brilliant try.

“It was always going to be a steep learning curve for them. The Australian competition’s gone up in leaps and bounds (since the Orchids last played a game in 2019),” coach Ben Jeffries.

“We’re trying to set some standards; we’ll stick together and I’ll guarantee they’ll fight ’til the end.”

They will be sweating on the availability of Gloria Kaupa, who captained with regular skipper Elsie Albert on NRLW duties with St George Illawarra.

She was sin-binned for shoulder contact on Baylee Davies in the second minute, the Indigenous Women’s Academy unable to return.

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“The poor thing, it’s not great, but she’s going to be OK and the experience she’s gained during the week will hold her well and we’ll see her running around in NRLW,” Donald said.


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