28 Jun 2019

Sport: More women's league players tipped to switch allegiance

3:33 pm on 28 June 2019

More high profile players are tipped to switch their international allegiance in women's rugby league following a historic weekend for Pacific teams.

Fetu Samoa were beaten 46-8 by the Kiwi Ferns on Saturday, in their first test match for eight years, while the Fiji Bulikula defeated Papua New Guinea 28-0 in Fiji's international debut.

The Samoan team included three former New Zealand internationals and two ex-Australian representatives.

Fetu Samoa perform the Sivi Tau.

Fetu Samoa perform the Sivi Tau. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Samoa captain Elianna Walton, who won two World Cups with the Jillaroos in 2013 and 2017, said she expected more players to make the switch in future.

"When I posted that I'm coming to play for Samoa everyone was like, 'El, how do we get involved? How can I come back and play for Samoa?'," she said.

"These girls are like Wallaroos players and other girls wanting to come back and play. They've played at the elite level in all three codes."

Walton (34) also has Cook Islands heritage, with younger sisters Stephanie and Eliza having represented the Moana at the 2017 World Cup alongside Kiana Takairangi, the sister of Cook Islands men's captain Brad Takairangi.

Kiana scored two tries for the Kiwi Ferns at the weekend.

Despite falling well short of the New Zealand on the scoreboard, Fetu Samoa head coach Glenn Brailey said he was encouraged by what he saw from his team off the back of very limited preparation.

Fetu Samoa rugby league coach Glenn Brailey with captain Elianna Walton.

Fetu Samoa rugby league coach Glenn Brailey with captain Elianna Walton. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"I was looking for effort and I was looking for a lot of pride in the jersey and they showed that today," he said.

"The scoreline doesn't reflect what heart they showed but I saw it. Yeah, the Kiwi (Ferns) played really good football, they completed really well, they were outstanding on controlling the ruck.

"They did all the little things really well - played flat and fast - and we made errors, a lot of errors, but that's football and we're going to learn from that and we're going to build on that."

Brailey, who is also in charge of the Cronulla Sharks women's team, said officials had already begun discussions about playing more test matches in the future, leading up to the 2021 Women's Rugby League World Cup.

"This is the starting point for Fetu Samoa women's rugby league," he said. "We only had a couple of days of preparation.

"We've got a mixture of very experienced players like Elianna (Walton) and we've got some really young girls who are only 18 years of age so for us this is the start of building something special moving forwards."

The Papua New Guinea Orchids have also benefitted from changing allegiances with former Australia and Queensland State of Origin representative Amelia Kuk captaining her country for the first time against Fiji last weekend, while another ex-Jillaroo Jenni-Sue Hoepper started at halfback for the Maroons a day earlier, having debuted for PNG in 2018.

Amelia Kuk (R) captained the PNG Orchids against Fiji.

Amelia Kuk (R) captained the PNG Orchids against Fiji. Photo: PNG Rugby League