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Brad Donald hopes the current nucleus of Jillaroos players can help take the side into the 2021 World Cup following their 28-8 win over the Kiwi Ferns on Friday.

Donald opted for one of his youngest squads of the past decade for the Test against New Zealand and was met with a strong response, particularly from Millie Boyle, Jessica Sergis, Kirra Dibb and Shakiah Tungai on debut.

Sergis claimed player of the Test match honours just weeks after being named the NRLW player of the year at the Dally M Medals.

The Jillaroos centre finished off a creative try and ran for 151 metres from nine carries in the 20-point win.

"They're young, enthusiastic, fit and strong," Donald said of his side after the win.

"Even some of our plays tonight it's brave to kick the ball from a scrum but when we spoke about it they thought we could do that.

"It shows how much enthusiasm and the willingness to learn this team has. If we can keep the nucleus of the side together for a number of years then the game is going to get better."

Shakiah Tungai following Friday's win over New Zealand.
Shakiah Tungai following Friday's win over New Zealand. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The Jillaroos were forced to defend their try line for up to 15 minutes early before scoring back-to-back tries for a 10-0 lead.

Their advantage grew before half-time and they managed to outscore their opponents 10-4 in the second half.

"It was when we were refreshed, they defended well there and it set up the game for us," Donald said of the opening stages.

"I'm really proud of them. We're stepping up from 60 minutes [in the NRLW] to 80 minutes. The skill, strength and speed have gone to another level."

Sergis, Tungai and Kezie Apps all come from the Illawarra region and crossed the line in front of their home crowd.

Tungai has enjoyed a rapid rise in the women's game since coming onto the scene last year.

The Shellharbour junior scored a second-half try and kicked three goals.

"I feel like the whole hill was my mob, I lost count on how many came," Tungai said.

"I'm grateful for every jersey I've got to wear this year and am proud to wear this Jillaroos jersey.

"To be able to debut in this jersey in my hometown in front of family and friends, I couldn't tell you how much this means to me."

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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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