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The New Zealand Kiwi Ferns play host to World Cup champions the Jillaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday in the first and only battle between the two nations in 2018.

With no Nines tournament or mid-season Test match this year, players from both sides have been kept busy with State of Origin and the NRL Holden Women's Premiership. But now they get another taste of international rugby league.

New Zealand had dominated the women's game for decades until Australia's recent two-year run of success that included a World Cup triumph last year.

Australia will go into Saturday's clash with a vastly different line-up to the one that was successful against the Kiwi Ferns at Suncorp Stadium last December.

Injuries to Sam Bremner, Caitlin Moran and Corban McGregor, plus the retirements of Renae Kunst, Lavina O'Mealey and withdrawal of Nakia Davis-Welsh open the Jillaroos up to an opportunity to unlock the next generation of stars.

Australia coach Brad Donald has named six debutantes for the clash. More new talent will be required as early as next year with veteran duo Steph Hancock and Heather Ballinger expected to hang up the boots sooner rather than later.

Apps excited to be back in Jillaroos camp

Hunter Valley products Holli Wheeler and Hannah Southwell lead the fresh faces, with Tazmin Gray, Keeley Davis, Julia Robinson and Jess Sergis all named for their debut after strong NRLW campaigns.

How quickly the side comes together is set to be a factor for the Australian line-up, as will be the challenge of playing the Kiwi Ferns in Auckland.

For the Kiwi Ferns, they've made five changes from their World Cup final side with form in the NRLW counting for three new debutants.

Onjeurlina Leiataua, Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa-Pauaraisa and Lavinia Gould add to an already powerful side that contains Karyn Murphy medallist Kimiora Nati and hard-running Broncos trio Teuila Fotu-Moala, Ngatokotoru Arakua and Maitua Feterika.

Key match-up: It will start in the middle but Ali Brigginshaw and Kimiora Nati are set to provide the most intriguing one-on-one battle. As teammates, they helped guide the Broncos to a history-making NRLW premiership just two weeks ago. Player of the World Cup final Brigginshaw has the class and experience at international level to match Karyn Murphy medallist Nati.

For the Jillaroos to win: Continuity will be key for the side with a transitional period in place, but the Jillaroos don't have a whole tournament to get their act together for this one. They'll need to match up in individually. The threat of Arakua and Honey Hireme can worry any side, so containing those three players will go a long way to victory. There is enough strike power and attacking talent if their defensive game is on song.

Jillaroos teammates look back on head clash

For the Kiwi Ferns to win: They are more than capable of winning through their power game. The NRLW has taken many of these players to a new level. They'll need the likes of Nati, Fotu-Moala, Arakua and Hireme to lead from the front. If they do, they'll be hard to stop on home turf. Little split the sides in the final last year but the Kiwi Ferns were out-muscled up front - that will prove costly if that is repeated.

Jillaroos stat attack: The Australian side had 146 carries out of dummy half across the World Cup tournament last year in comparison to the Kiwi Ferns' 96. The difference accumulated an extra 619 metres in total for the Jillaroos at an average of 123.8m per game.

Kiwi Ferns stat attack: Individually the Kiwi Ferns were causing chaos at last year's World Cup. They tallied 358 tackle breaks compared to the Jillaroos' 245 and made 78 line breaks - 19 more than the Jillaroos. Hireme topped the tally alone with 34 tackle busts and 19 line breaks, finishing with 13 tries in four games.

And another thing: Don't be alarmed when the game continues past the 60-minute mark. International rules will apply for this fixture, meaning unlike the State of Origin and NRLW clashes, a further 20 minutes will be played. Only seven points were scored in the final quarter of last year's World Cup final.

New Zealand Kiwi Ferns v Australia Jillaroos, Saturday, October 13, 3pm (5pm AEDT)
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 21; Kiwi Ferns 15 wins, Jillaroos 6 wins
Previous result: Jillaroos won 23-16 in the 2017 World Cup final
Televised: Live on GEM, Fox League and Sky Sports 2 (NZ)

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