Tonegato misses Jillaroos RLWC call up

Australia coach Brad Donald says the "hardest decision" to omit Emma Tonegato from the Jillaroos squad for the Rugby League World Cup is an example of the NRLW's growing talent depth.

The St George Illawarra fullback, who won a rugby sevens gold medal with Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games, couldn't force her way into Donald's side.

Sammy Bremner of the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle's Tamika Upton beat her to the punch as fullbacks in a strong squad who will be short-priced favourites to lift the trophy.

Bremner, who was named as fullback in the Dally M team of the year and returns to international level following the birth of her child, forms part of a three-woman Jillaroos captaincy along with playmaker Ali Brigginshaw and forward Kezie Apps.

That trio, along with Roosters centre Isabelle Kelly and Parramatta prop Simaima Taufa, are the only survivors from the 2017 tournament.

"That was probably the hardest decision for us to make and shows the quality of the women's game when someone like Emma Tonegato misses out," Donald said.

"Because of the four-day turnarounds what we'll do is we'll rotate a team the best we can and give everybody an opportunity to be there come the semi-finals and finals."

There are 13 potential international debutants in Donald's squad, including prop Caitlan Johnston, Tarryn Aiken and Olivia Kernick, all of whom made the Dally M team of the year.

There is no spot for 17-year-old premiership-winning Newcastle halfback Jesse Southwell, with Brigginshaw a likely candidate to wear the No.7 jumper.

"She (Southwell) has been fantastic and again it shows the health of the game," Donald said.

"She's had a big year, she's played in the Commonwealth Games in rugby as well and had a really first-class performance yesterday (in the NRLW grand final).

"She's certainly somebody that will be named in these teams in the future"

Australia begin their World Cup campaign with a pool game against the Cook Islands on November 2 in York before games with France and New Zealand.

AUSTRALIA SQUAD: Tarryn Aiken, Kezie Apps (co-capt), Millie Boyle, Sammy Bremner (co-capt), Ali Brigginshaw (co-capt), Lauren Brown, Jaime Chapman, Kennedy Cherrington, Shenae Ciesiolka, Yasmin Clydsdale, Keeley Davis, Taliah Fuimaono, Tallisha Harden, Caitlan Johnston, Keilee Joseph, Isabelle Kelly, Olivia Kernick, Shannon Mato, Evania Pelite, Julia Robinson, Jess Sergis, Simaima Taufa, Tamika Upton, Holli Wheeler.