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The introduction of the NRL Holden Women's Premiership has unearthed a potential eight fresh faces across the Australia and New Zealand teams for Saturday afternoon's Trans-Tasman Test at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

It marks the first time the teams will play each other since the Jillaroos triumphed in the 2017 World Cup at Suncorp Stadium last November.

For a lot of the players from both sides, who were teammates just a fortnight ago across the four NRLW competition, they'll put their club alliances aside for the first time in history.

The Kiwi Ferns will be desperate to bounce back from World Cup defeat last season and bridge the gap created by the Australian outfit over the last two years. has broken down the position-by-position match-ups to see where the game could be won or lost on Saturday.

Fullback: Apii Nicholls v Chelsea Baker

Both fullbacks had strong performances in the NRLW competition but Baker took her game to another level in the No.1 jersey this year. Nicholls provides a roaming role at the back and is elusive if the Kiwi Ferns forward pack can get on top early.

Verdict: Baker nudges Nicholls but not by a lot. The mum-of-two missed just three tackles in four games during the NRLW and makes a handy replacement for injured Jillaroo Sam Bremner and incumbent Nakia Davis-Welsh.

Wingers: Karley Te Kawa & Langi Veainu v Julia Robinson & Karina Brown

All quality finishers who will be looking to get one over their opposite numbers. Australia winger Robinson is the rookie but should be no target for the Kiwi Ferns side. Her battle with Broncos teammate Te Kawa is one to watch. Brown was one of the best wingers in the World Cup last season and her combination with Kelly could prove a point of difference.

Verdict: Can't split the wingers in a lot of aspects but Robinson and Brown provide the Jillaroos with a safety net in both attack and defence to give them a slight edge.

Centres: Maitua Feterika & Honey Hireme v Jessica Sergis & Isabelle Kelly

A bumper match-up on both sides with speed and strength in the backline. Hireme looms as the danger player for the Kiwi Ferns and showed in last year's World Cup final she has the ability to worry the Jillaroos out wide. Feterika finds herself back in the centres against Kelly, who piled on two tries against her opposite number in the World Cup final last season.

Verdict: This is an even contest, though the combination of Hireme and Feterika looks too strong on paper. Sergis faces a big challenge against Dragons teammate Hireme, while Feterika needs to come up with a big game against Kelly defensively.

Halves: Raecene McGregor & Kimiora Nati v Ali Brigginshaw & Zahara Temara

Three of the four halves from the World Cup final return 10 months later to guide their teams around the paddock. Temera is the new face but is arguably one of the brightest talents in the game with big-match experience. Nati complimented Brigginshaw well in the halves for the Broncos but will need more of a leadership role with McGregor alongside her at the international level.

Verdict: Brigginshaw and Temara give the Jillaroos an advantage particularly through their kicking game, with a combined 1249 kicking metres throughout the NRLW competition, compared to the Kiwi Ferns' halves combination's 445.

Props: Ngatokotoru Arakua & Aieshaleigh Smalley v Heather Ballinger & Elianna Walton

Two pairs of players at different ends of their playing careers. Arakua comes into the Trans-Tasman Test as one of the best props in the game after a dominant role playing for the Broncos. Her combination with Smalley will provide the Kiwi Ferns with strong impact early. Ballinger and Walton are experienced enough to handle the pair early but it could be a case of contain rather than impact.

Verdict: The Jillaroos veterans will have to do a job on Arakua and Smalley because they are both unstoppable on their day. Expect the Kiwi Ferns to be dominant early.

Hookers: Nita Maynard v Brittany Breayley

The State of Origin hookers will go head-to-head for the fourth time this season with Breayley holding a 2-1 record over the Kiwi Ferns dummy half. Maynard has swapped the NSW jumper to represent New Zealand with the eligibility rules lightened in the women's arena this season. Breayley is the Dally M women's player of the year.

Verdict: While Maynard will be at her sharp best, the class of Breayley should prove too good over the 80 minutes.

Second row: Teuila Fotu-Moala & Onjeurlina Leiataua v Kezie Apps & Holli Wheeler

Leiataua announced herself on the big stage with strong performances for the Warriors both in winning and beaten outfits. Her form has essentially allowed for Feterika to shift to the centres. The battle of Fotu-Moala and Apps could prove game-changing, with both at a damaging best on their day.  

Verdict:  The Kiwi Ferns have the edge in the back row if they can utilise Leiataua and Fotu-Moala accordingly. Apps will want a big game after a quiet NRLW campaign.

Lock: Laura Mariu v Simaima Taufa

Both inspirational players in their own right. Mariu is an extra playmaker for the Kiwi Ferns line-up after playing for the Warriors at five-eighth in the NRLW. Taufa is coming off an injury-riddled season but continues to play through the pain barrier and churn out a high work rate.

Verdict: Both add different impact to their respective sides, you'd expect Mariu to offer more in attack with Taufa's injury.

Bench: Georgia Hale, Sui Tauaua-Pauaraisa, Amber Kan, Annetta Nuuausala v Keeley Davis, Stephanie Hancock, Annette Brander, Tazmin Gray

With the game branching out to 80 minutes after the 60-minute contests in the NRLW, the impact of the bench is going to prove vital. The Kiwi Ferns have opted for George Hale to come into the utility role with rugby union convert Sui Tauaua-Pauraisa making her debut. Annetta Nuuausala has not been sighted since round one of the NRLW but pulled off a monster hit on Zahara Temara for the highlights reel. She will add impact off the bench to accommodate Ngatokotoru Arakua's roll on early. 

Keeley Davis the surprise player in the utility role. The Aussies have got the experience through Steph Hancock to come on first change, while Queensland pair Annette Brander and Tazmin Gray have had strong years.

Verdict: Australia have opted for a mobile bench and with an 80-minute game ahead, look to have an edge over the Kiwi Ferns from the interchange. Any late changes could mix this up. Wouldn't surprise if Nuuausala started with Arakua giving another huge effort off the interchange.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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