FOCUSED: Brothers Ipswich player Ali Brigginshaw in training with the Australian Jillaroos.
FOCUSED: Brothers Ipswich player Ali Brigginshaw in training with the Australian Jillaroos. NRL Photos

Brigginshaw wary of Moana threat

IPSWICH Brothers star Ali Brigginshaw has cautioned her Australian Jillaroos team not to be complacent ahead of their Women's Rugby League World Cup opener to the Cook Islands today.

Brigginshaw was named in the starting line-up for the Jillaroos alongside Brothers teammate Brittany Breayley, to begin the Aussies' World Cup title defence.

Their first hurdle comes in the form of a Cook Islands Moana outfit which Brigginshaw admitted is an unknown commodity.

"We've never played against the Cook Islands before, so for us they're our biggest challenge first up," the Aussie number six said.

"We know they'll be very physical, they have a lot of rugby union players in their ranks but hopefully our fitness can get us through in the end.

"We know we can't be complacent. If we each do our job, we should get the result we want."

After almost three weeks in camp, Brigginshaw said the team was champing at the bit to hit the field at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

"It's been a big couple of weeks of training, but we're looking forward to finally getting out there and playing," she said.

The Aussies enter the tournament as odds-on favourites to add a second World Cup trophy to their cabinet, having won the 2013 iteration in England.

If they are to make it back-to-back wins, it will mean playing five games in 17 days.

That stacked schedule is a big reason Jillaroos coach Brad Donald will rest seven starters for today's clash.

The Aussies will blood four debutantes in Cronulla, but despite the fresh faces Brigginshaw is confident the team will still show up on the big stage.

"In camp, when we've swapped out the starters you can barely notice a change and that's what we're really proud of," Brigginshaw said. "There's confidence in the whole squad of 24."

The Jillaroos veteran is one of just seven players who remain from the victorious 2013 side, and she believes the mix of experience and youth will hold the Aussies in good stead.

"Everyone seems a bit more calm, there's a different mix in this camp from 2013," Brigginshaw said. "We're playing every three days, which isn't something you would normally do. The experience of the older girls, particularly with regards to recovery will be important.

"We have fast girls, strong girls and fit girls - some of our forwards look like backs, but that's not a bad thing it just means they've trained hard to get there."

More important than lifting the World Cup trophy in Brisbane on December 2, Brigginshaw said the next three weeks would be crucial in showcasing the women's game to the world.

"Everyone has realised it is up to us to go out there and perform so the game can continue to grow," she said.

"I think that is the mindset of all the teams, not just us."