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Warriors and Kiwi Ferns fullback Apii Nicholls

The Warriors' new-look halves pairing of Charntay Poko and Timaima Ravisa are straight into the deep end on Saturday, when they take on the Sydney Roosters, as both players make their NRLW debut with hardly any previous top-level rugby league experience to their names. 

With last year's captain and chief half Laura Mairu now retired, Raquel Anderson-Pitman not in the squad and Georgia Hale moving to lock, the play-making duties will fall to Poko and Ravisa for the opening game at AAMI Park.

Both players come from predominantly rugby union backgrounds, with 2019 being Ravisa's first in rugby league and Poko only playing her first Test for the Kiwi Ferns in June this year.

Coach Luisa Avaiki said while it was an inexperienced pairing, the side was actually in better shape in terms of play-making options this time around and confirmed Hale would feature heavily in the ball playing despite playing in the forwards.  

"We are a lot more balanced on both sides and right across the field in terms of our halves [this year], where we probably had one dominant half last year in Laura Mairu," Avaiki said.

Roosters v Warriors: NRLW Round 1

"This year it doesn't just have to fall on one person. There's about four key people there who can act in that position.

"[Georgia] does have the ability to be a ball player, having played in the halves, so she's a really good link for us around the field and to our edges."

Prior to pre-season kicking off Poko and Ravisa played just three games together for Richmond in the Auckland club competition.

While Fiji born-and-raised Ravisa's English is improving, most of the play-calling responsibility will fall to Poko against the Roosters.

"I'm not used to being the dominant half, usually I'm playing with one of them and I just do my thing on the side, so that's been a challenge," Poko told

"It took a while to get used to bossing everyone around - it's taken all pre-season and it's especially hard when everyone is more experienced than me.

"We had a meeting with Warriors halfback Blake Green and he's given me a few tips on how to communicate and change the tempo of the attack, so that's been a big help."

Ravisa, who was part of Fiji's Olympic rugby sevens campaign in Rio 2016, said Avaiki has given her simple instructions ahead of her debut. 

"Just run basically and try and get those defenders to chase you… Poko will do the organising," Ravisa told

"My role is about me using my footwork and speed to take away defenders and create space.

"I am more nervous for this than I ever was for a rugby union game, but once it comes to game day it'll be all good."

What's new for NRLW?

While the Warriors started last year with a win over the Roosters, they conceded 54 points in their next two games against the Dragons and Broncos and missed the NRLW grand final.

Avaiki said the club had employed a dedicated strength and conditioning coach for the women's team and created better links with staff from the Warriors NRL side.

"We have learned a lot from last year. It was a whole lot of things like getting more people to help in different areas, consultation with different people on how we could do things," Avaiki said.

"The club has been awesome in consulting with us on how the men handle travel, recovery and all of that sort of stuff.

"But the biggest thing for us was just getting our own strength and conditioning coach that would be dedicated to just our girls, and who knew the specific needs of our girls."

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National Rugby League respects and honours 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 Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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