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Where the women's Test will be won and lost

Australia will have to overcome the loss of at least six players boasting close to a century of international games to keep their recent Test record alive against New Zealand at WIN Stadium on Friday. 

It's one of the many factors leading into the much-anticipated Test match between the two nations worth noting with individual match-ups looming as key. 

The Kiwi Ferns are in a similar transition period of their own but maintain a forward pack that will worry the defending World Cup champions. broke it down by position to see where the game could be won and lost.

With minimal between the sides in last year's 26-24 contest, three areas loom as pivotal – the forwards battle, centres duel and the impact of the benches.

Where the women's Test match will be won and lost

Fullback: Corban McGregor v Apii Nicholls

McGregor found a bit of form in the World Cup 9s with four tries for the tournament after a quiet NRLW campaign for the Roosters. Nicholls topped the NRLW with 11 kicks diffused in three games at fullback for the Warriors.

Verdict: An evenly-poised battle between the two custodians. It's very hard to split them. They both have the ability to weave and glide through the line with defensive games to match.

McGregor sprints away to get lead back for Jillaroos

Wingers: Tiana Penitani & Shakiah Tungai v Kiana Takairangi & Atawhai Tupaea

Both Jillaroos wingers will be on debut against their Kiwi Ferns counterparts.

Penitani has been one of the stories of the year with player of the tournament at the Australian National Championships in June and a debut for NSW and St George Illawarra.

Tungai's creativity was on show at the 9s and she's a handy goal-kicker to boot.

Takairangi made her international debut against Samoa and impressed with a treble, while Tupaea was among the Warriors' best out wide during their NRLW campaign.

Verdict: The Kiwi Ferns have a bit more size here whereas the Jillaroos will rely on their speed. Neither group of players get through a mountain of work compared to their centre partners but are all considered clean finishers.

Centres: Jessica Sergis & Isabelle Kelly v Honey Hireme-Smiler & Jules Newman

What a contest this will be on both edges.

After Newman got the upper hand on Kelly in the 9s final you'd expect a response from the current golden boot winner.

Kelly has endured a tough period with injuries over the past couple of months but is due for a monster effort.

Likewise, Sergis will have her hands full against a fresh Hireme-Smiler and the Dally M winner's reputation will certainly be tested on the biggest stage.

Hireme-Smiler (214 metres and 11 tackle busts) and Kelly (192 metres and 4 tackle busts) were dominant for their nation's in last year's Test match.

Verdict: These battles will be huge but a lot will depend on the middles. Kelly and Sergis were limited in parts of the NRLW competition when their respective forward packs were on the back foot.

Hireme-Smiler will be at her effective best so how Sergis handles her will be key. Kelly has the edge over Newman on experience alone but expect the Kiwi Ferns centre to be fired up for the challenge once again.

Newman gets the Kiwi Ferns back in front

Halves: Kirra Dibb & Ali Brigginshaw v Charntay Poko & Raecene McGregor

A debutant, Broncos teammates and a standout Warrior go head-to-head in a playmaking battle to saviour.

Brigginshaw and McGregor won a premiership at Red Hill just over a fortnight ago but have been enemies since in their respective national colours.

Both are arguably the form players of the competition. Dibb is the untested playmaker at international level but excelled on the big stage in Origin.

Poko finished the NRLW competition with a record-high 1119 kick metres.

Verdict: The class of Brigginshaw over the entire 80 minutes should help Dibb settle into the Jillaroos jersey but Poko and McGregor's combination went well in their Test match against in Samoa in June and shouldn't be discounted.

Brigginshaw provides for Apps

Props: Simaima Taufa & Millie Boyle v Annetta Nuuausala & Amber Hall  

A new-look engine room for both nation's but particularly the Jillaroos who have lost experienced players Steph Hancock, Elianna Walton and Heather Ballinger from last year's forward pack.

Between the trio they boasted more than 10 years of international experience each.

Boyle will be on debut but is experienced enough in other codes to handle the occasion, while Taufa was among the best for the side last season with 170 metres in 71 minutes. 

Boyle and Hall finished in the top five for most run metres and post-contact yardage as a front-row combination at the Broncos this season but will now go head-to-head with bragging rights on the line.

Nuuausala and Hall have proven to be explosive early and loom as a big threat through the middle.

Verdict: A host of experience has been lost for the Jillaroos and Taufa's ankle doesn't seem like it's at 100%. You'd have to lean towards the Kiwi Ferns having an edge up front in this instance. 

Hookers: Keeley Davis v Krystal Rota

A rising young gun lines up against an experienced pro in this battle of the rakes. Brittany Breayley's withdrawal from the Test match opens the door for Davis to show her worth in the starting hooker role after she came off the bench last year.

Davis's performances in the 9s gave Jillaroos coach Brad Donald enough confidence to start her in Breayley's absence.

Rota had a stellar NRLW season with the Warriors to finish as leading dummy half runner in the competition with 169.5 metres accumulated from 24 carries.

Verdict: Rota has got the runs on the board in this arena and has the experience in an 80-minute format but Davis won't die wondering.

Kiwi Ferns deliver stirring Haka

Second row: Kezie Apps & Annette Brander v Onjeurlina Leiataua & Crystal Tamarua

A strong battle on the edges emerge with Kezie Apps and player of the NRLW grand final Annette Brander making up the Australian second row. 

Apps suffered a broken leg in last year's game but prior to that was a handful early for the Kiwi Ferns.

Leiataua was one of the Warriors' most consistent players during their NRLW campaign, averaging 98 metres and five tackle busts per game.

Verdict: Apps and Brander have the experience on their side but the Kiwi Ferns back-rowers are in form and will set a big challenge. 

Lock: Hannah Southwell v Georgia Hale

A couple of workhorses who offer different strengths to their respective teams.

Southwell has a knack of pulling off desperate cover tackles and taking the hard carry when no one else wants to.

Hale has switched from the halves to the forwards in recent seasons and it's given every side she's involved in a chance to add a second-phase dimension. 

She's finished the NRLW season as a finalist for the RLPA player of the year and was named in the 9s team of the tournament. 

Verdict: Hale's ball-playing ability has added a new element to her game so expect the Kiwi Ferns to utilise her switch in the forwards.                                               

Bench: Botille Vette-Welsh, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Holli Wheeler & Tallisha Harden v Nita Maynard, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Billy-Jean Ale & Maitua Feterika

A good balance for both sides coming off the bench in what shapes as a crucial challenge for each coach.

Vette-Welsh may be a specialised outside back but her work out of dummy-half is up there with the best and she'll be more than handy for Brad Donald around the ruck.

Harden is back in the international frame after a four-year hiatus with Lenarduzzi on debut. 

Maynard, Foty-Moala and Feterika have been in the Kiwi Ferns system a while and have been starting players previously.

Verdict: The Kiwi Ferns bench just screams impact with Fotu-Moala and Feterika in particular. They'll be tough to handle at the latter stages of the first half. It looms as a massive point of difference for the Jillaroos to overcome.

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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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