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Rob Cain makes Major Changes ahead of Black Ferns Match

USA Scrum, Photo Credit: Aaron Castro

The best way to explain this is overhaul. In total, 15 changes. 5 players move from starting to the bench. 3 Players from the training squad have been activated with three players being dropped. All players were available for selection. You can look at the changes being performance based against the Red Roses and also the need to try more combinations with the young squad.

Working from the pack: The big changes are Katy Augustyn earning starting selection and first appearance in the 2019 Super Series pushing Joannna Kitlinski to the Bench. Nic James moves from reserve hooker to starting THP, flipping with Catie Benson who's moved to the Bench. Then in the engine room, Stacey Bridges slides to 4 and Alycia Washington earns starting selection at 5 with Kristine Sommer moving to the Bench. Asinate Serevi is dropped, which changes the back row with Elizabeth Cairns being activated and starting at Blindside. Captain Kate Zackary slides over from the Blindside to start at No 8. Overall some of these changes look to be made to address our overall strength in the scrum, but it seemed from the match against the Red Roses that the unit just wasn't strong enough rather than being a simple individual that could change the dynamic. Sommer, Benson, and Serevi were quite consistent on the day.

Moving to the backs, I'll get to the issues afterwards. Katana Howard, who played well first as a blood sub and then off the bench in the second half earns a start with Gabby Cantorna dropped. Kris Thomas moves from the Bench to starting at left wing with Jennine Duncan being dropped. Alev Kelter slides over to Inside Center from the outside with Amy Talei Bonte being activated and earning a start at Outside Center, Eti Haungatau moves to the bench. At right wing and fullback, Bulou Mataitoga flips to the right wing with Bui Baravilala moving to Full Back. Nicole Strasko is activated and earns a reserve spot.

Overall, the major issue for the Eagles after the scrum was the service out of the ruck. The ball was not on target to the first receiver, it was either too low or too high and slow. The 9-10 connection also seemed off, which makes sense. However, that seemed to be the case with Cantorna or Howard at Fly-half. But Byrge makes the start with Cantorna being dropped from the side. In addition, although Kris Thomas starting makes a lot of sense because she brings a lot to the table. Jennine Duncan played a great game.

We'll see how it goes, but the Black Ferns will be just as fierce as the Red Roses were.

~Aaron Castro