Rugby Union: Hunter duo in Wallaroos first XV for World Cup first-round clash with hosts Ireland

BREAKAWAY: Mollie Gray at Wallaroos training in Ireland this week. Picture: ARU Media

BREAKAWAY: Mollie Gray at Wallaroos training in Ireland this week. Picture: ARU Media

Merewether-based Wallaroos No.9 Katrina Barker will partner debutant five-eighth Trilleen Pomare in the halves for Australia’s World Cup opener against hosts Ireland.  

In her maiden 15-a-side World Cup, 12 months after her own national debut, scrumhalf Barker will play alongside the West Australian rookie at University College Dublin Bowl. 

The 23-player Wallaroos squad was named on Tuesday with University’s Barker to be joined on the park by Maitland’s Mollie Gray.  

The 27-year-old breakaway earned a starting spot at her second World Cup after coming back from major knee surgery in February.  

“Incredibly humbled to be given another shot at the World Cup! And even more so to be stepping into that field with the girls at 6! First game tomorrow! Can't wait to rip in!” Gray posted on Facebook.

Former Merewether Carlton player Sarah Riordan, now based in Victoria, was named on the bench. 

The first-round fixture will take place on Thursday (4am AEST) with France (Monday 4:45am) and Japan (Friday 2am) to follow next week.  

Meanwhile, the Wallabies continue their build up to next weekend’s Bledisloe Cup opener with training at Cessnock Sportsground.

They have two sessions remaining at the Goannas rugby league club headquarters on Thursday and Friday following a week-long camp in Newcastle late last month.