Iliseva Batibasaga in action for the Wallaroos.
Iliseva Batibasaga in action for the Wallaroos. Simon Watts

Wallaroos to get good workout before World Cup

THE Wallaroos will get the best hit out possible in the lead in to this year's World Cup facing the top three nations in the world in June.

A four nations tournament will be held in New Zealand before August's World Cup in Ireland, with Australia to face the Kiwis, defending champions England and women's rugby powerhouse Canada.

The three Test matches, to be played in Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua, will an excellent test of where the Aussie is at before they head to Europe.

Australian Rugby Union general manager high performance, Ben Whitaker, said the series would provide the relatively inexperienced Australia team with great game-preparation ahead of the Cup.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the Buildcorp Wallaroos to play against some of the best women's rugby sides in the world," Whitaker said.

"When the Wallaroos played the Black Ferns last year, there were 13 Australian debutants who got their first taste of international rugby and we saw how much that experience helped the squad improve from Test to Test.

"Playing more Tests is a key aspect of our women's 15s strategy. We welcome the opportunity and challenge to play in New Zealand as part of our preparation plan for the World Cup later in the year."

Australia played New Zealand twice in 2016 (the first time they'd played together since 2014), with the second Test showing a significantly improved performance by the Wallaroos, going down 29-3 compared to 67-3 in the first Test.

The upcoming four nations tournament provides fierce competition with the two finalists from 2014, plus New Zealand who won every women's World Cup prior to that.

Australia's best performance at a World Cup was in 2010 when they placed third, but they finished seventh in 2014.

Australia features in Pool C with hosts Ireland, plus France and Japan this year. They are ranked sixth overall with New Zealand at number one, and England and Canada rounding out the top three.