Everything you need to know ahead of Super W 2023

Michael Hooper's slow start opens No. 7 door (2:42)

It's only early in the season, but Michael Hooper's slow start and the form of other young Aussie No. 7s will be giving Eddie Jones plenty to ponder. (2:42)

In the sixth iteration of Super W, all six teams return, including Fijiana Drua, to battle for the title. Retaining the one-round format, the competition will see four teams enter the final series for the first time, with the grand final to be played in Townsville in May.

Reining premiers Fijiana Drua will be eyeing back-to-back titles, while four-time champions the Waratahs will be desperate to win back their crown.

With kick-off around the corner, ESPN has put together everything you need to know ahead of kick-off.

ACT Brumbies

Coach: Scott Fava

Captain: Siokapesi Palu

Squad: Amy Rule, Iris Verebalavu, Tilila Hifo, Benita Ese Sale, Sally Fuesaina, Brittany Leauanae, Tania Naden, Harriet Elleman, Erika Maslen, Ash Fernandez, Jess Grant, Kate Holland, Ivy Merlehan, Alyce Solaese, Tabua Tuinakauvadra, Lydia Kavoa, Zali Waihape, Edwina Munns-Cook, Grace Kemp, Jay Huriwai, Gisela Vea, Faitala Moleka, Shonte To'a, Gabrielle Petersen, Siokapesi Palu, Harmony Ioane, Sarah Riordan, Emerina Marsh-Kiro, Jemima McCalman, Apryll Green, Biola Dawa, Sammie Wood, Ashlea Bishop, Akira Kelly.

Last year: With one win and one draw last year, the Brumbies were left disappointed they didn't finish the season with more marks in their victory column after they failed to put the Rebels away in round two and fell just short of shocking the Reds in round three. Bringing in former Wallaroos fly-half Ash Hewson, the Brumbies found some direction in their backline with Jemima McCalman a clear standout for the side while Grace Kemp continued her sensational form in the backrow and Michaela Leonard used her experience to lead from the front.

This year: Unveiling a new look squad and a new coach in Scott Fava, the Brumbies have made sweeping changes to their team with Leonard heading west, Hewson hanging up the boots and Ella Ryan moving to the Tahs. In a big signing for the side, World Cup winning Black Ferns prop Amy Rule will be suiting up for the Brumbies alongside Fijiana prop Iris Verebalavu and Samoan backrow Alyce Solaese. Meanwhile, several Wallaroos debutants make their return including Kemp and McCalman who'll step into leadership roles alongside captain Siokapesi Palu. With one of the hardest draws in the competition, the Brumbies will be up against it early taking on Fijiana in Fiji before hosting the Tahs and then heading to Queensland, a shock win in at least one of their opening three games should be enough to see them sneak into the top four and play in the semifinals.

Fixtures: Fijiana Drua [A], Waratahs [H], Reds [A], Rebels [H], Force [A]

Fijiana Drua

Coach: Senirusi Seruvakula

Captain: Bitila Tawake

Squad: Karalaini Naisewa, Bitila Tawake, Joma Rubuti, Losana Ravouvou, Mereoni Vonosere, Tiana Robanakadavu, Maria Narara, Litia Marama, Keleni Marawa, Vika Matarugu, Emily Taylor, Doreen Narokete, Ana Tuimasi, Laisa Vosa, Nunia Uluilakeba, Karavaki Lutumaibau, Merewai Cumu, Susana Railumu, Salaseini Railumu, Fulori Naqura, Makereta Tunidau, Kolora Lomani, Setaita Railumu, Raijeli Uluinayau, Merewalesi Rokouno, Animei, Vani Arei, Lavenia Tinai, Vitalina Naikore, Naomi Ratudrisi, Rusila Nagasau, Wainikita Vosadrau, Roela Radiniyavuni, Vive Sisikisawana, Unaisi Tagabale, Sera Baletini, Akanisi Soqoiwasa, Laisana Likuceva, Adita Miliana, Mariana Talatoka, Losana Bainivalu.

Last year: What an introduction to Super W! First year nerves get out of here, the Fijiana Drua came to Australia ready to make an impression and from the opening round they did just that. Smashing the Rebels in their debut match, they quickly went on to dominate every team including the Waratahs, locking in their Grand Final place in Round 5. Playing out an incredible final against the Tahs, the Drua ended NSW's Super W reign and took home the top prize, with wing Vitalina Naikore scoring a hattrick to finish her incredible season.

This year: Naming a much-changed squad, the Drua have retained just nine of last year's title winning team, including six who represented Fiji at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. With several players moving on, Fijiana will be backing their youth to get the job done in 2023 and defend their title. Demonstrating the benefits of playing in a fulltime set-up, the Drua are sure to see the benefits again this year, while a first home game in Fiji in the opening round has filled the squad with plenty of excitement as they prepare to play in front of family and friends for the first time.

Fixtures: Brumbies [H], Rebels [H], Waratahs [A], Force [A], Reds [A]


Coach: Matt Hodgson

Captain: Trilleen Pomare

Squad: Braxton Walker, Angelica Uila, Hera-Barb Malcolm Heke, Mercedes Putz, Penina Tuilaepa, Sera Ah-Sam, Sofia Bekir Fuente, Ashlee Knight, Elizabeth Kennedy, Libya Teepa, Destiny Maui, Katie Barnes, Keira McAskill, Sera Ravatudei, Taj Heald, Tamika Jones, Kendra Fell, Saelua Leaula, Samantha Wood, Ariana Hira-Herangi, Bo Burton, Langely Sesaga, Nicole Ledington, Trilleen Pomare, Zakiya Kereopa, Aiysha Wigley, Ariana Ruru-Hinaki, Martha Mataele, Paihau Pomare, Rachel Laqeretabua, Michaela Leonard, Natsuki Kashiwagi, Atlata Lolehea, Yuna Sato.

Last year: Winless for a third season in a row, the Force were simply out-muscled and out-played by their opposition in 2022. Falling to a heavy defeat against the Reds in the opening round, the Force struggled to make a mark on the season, only starting to find their stride in round five where they kept their opposition scoreline below 30-points for the first time. Disappointingly, their final game of the season against the Rebels was cancelled ruling out any chance of getting their first win on the board in three years.

This year: Determined to make a mark in 2023, the Force have brought in former men's captain Matt Hodgson as coach while they've gone on a signing spree bringing in Wallaroos lock Michaela Leonard, Fijian flyer Rachel Laqeretabua and Japan duo Natsuki Kashiwagi and Yuna Sato. Playing out pre-season matches for the first time, the Force have more game time under their belt and are much better prepared than ever before. Three games on the road to kick off the season will be a hard start for the team out west, but just one road win could set them up for a semifinal appearance for the first time.

Fixtures: Waratahs [A], Reds [A], Rebels [A], Drua [H], Brumbies [H]

Melbourne Rebels

Coach: Jason Rogers

Captain: Ash Marsters

Squad: Laiema Bosenavulagi, Hayley Glass, Janita Kareta, Asipau Mafi, Vika Matarugu, Jiowana Sauto, Hope Kareta, Ashley Marsters, Michaela Maunsell, Nawel Remini, Easter Savelio, Tanya Yabaki, Naila Faaiuaso, Phoebe Linder-Patton, Sydney Niupulusu, Ariana Perez, Utumalefata To'omalatai Atonio Eli, Jessia Campbell, Sarah Hogan, Chanelle Kohika-Skipper, Meretiana Robinson, Sheniqua Taula, Faalua Tugaga, Allyssa Lolesio-Pua, Hope Schuster, Wasie Toolis, Hamrony Vatau, Amy Williams, Mia-Rae Clifford, Kerri Johnson, Karin Kusano, Jade Te Aute.

Last year: Winless in 2023, the Rebels only points came from a surprise draw against the Brumbies in the second round. Showing glimpses of their potential throughout the year, the side was simply outclassed by their opposition as they struggled to find momentum and string together strong performances. A Covid outbreak in the final round meant their final game against the Force was cancelled, a disappointing result for the Rebels who had a fair chance of finishing the season on a high.

This year: Introducing a new coach in Jason Rogers and naming Wallaroos hooker Ashley Marsters as captain, the Rebels will be looking to shrug off last year's disappointing results and get wins on the board in 2023. Kicking off their season at home, the Rebels will have a tough task against the Reds before taking on the Drua but should be able to build nicely on the way to the final rounds. Injecting youth into the squad, the Rebels have brought in New Zealand born Kerri Johnson - niece of New Zealand great Portia Woodman-Wicklife - to bolster their squad.

Fixtures: Reds [H], Drua [A], Force [H], Brumbies [A], Waratahs [H]

Queensland Reds

Coach: Simon Craig

Captain: Shannon Parry

Squad: Bree-Anna Cheatham, Madi Schuck, Alapeta Ngauamo, Theresa Soloai, Nina Poletti, Tiarna Molloy, Tazmin Sheppard, Miki Trbojevic, Annabelle Codey, Deni Ross, Tina Campbell, Joana Rabaka, Shannon Parry, Hana Lane, Carola Kries, Haidee Head, Megan Prinsloo, Sarah Lewis, Terr-Anne Egan, Renae Nona, Cecilia Smith, Dianne Hiini, Mel Wilks, Caitlyn Urwin, Sam Curtis, Ivania Wong, Briana Dascombe, Heleina Young, Ellie Draper

Last year: Falling to the Drua and Tahs in the regular season, the Reds failed to reach the grand final for the first time in the competition's history when they were hammered 36-0 in the semifinal by the Tahs. Welcoming new coach Simon Craig and former Australian sevens star Shannon Parry to the fold, the Reds were competitive again but lacked the polish needed to match it with the best. Wallaroos Ivania Wong, Bree-Anna Cheatham and Madi Schuck were standouts for the side, especially Wong with her trademark dazzling sideline breaks, while fullback Ellie Draper had an impressive year for a side that's yet to take their game to the next level.

This year: With a mix of youth and experience, the Reds have named a strong squad that should test the best throughout the season. Naming six Wallaroos alongside 11 potential debutants, the Reds will be sporting a strong core group that they've retained from last season with their Wallaroos players ready to step up as leaders and take their side to another level in 2023. Recruiting hard, the Reds have picked up three players from across the ditch with prop Nina Poletti, scrumhalf Diane Hiini and back Sam Curtis emerging through the Canterbury pathway, meanwhile local upcoming stars hooker Miki Trbojevic - cousin of NRL stars Tom and Jake Trbojevic - and former Fijian sprinter Heleina Young will be keen to make an impression on the competition. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Reds captain Shannon Parry believes the team have the ability to take home the trophy in 2023: "We're here to win, we're not here to just participate. We're here to win this championship and lift that crown in Townsville in 6-7 weeks time. I think that's a very realistic goal for our group this year. We've put in the hard yards to be in that final dance and there's no doubt we'll be there."

Fixtures: Rebels [A], Force [H], Brumbies [H], Waratahs [A], Drua [H]


Coach: Campbell Aiken

Captain: Piper Duck

Squad: Adiana Talakai, Brianna Hoy, Bridie O'Gorman, Brittany Merlo, Emily Robinson, Eva Karpani, Georgia Chapple, Katalina Amosa, Ana-Lise Sio, Atasi Lafai, Rosie Ebbage, Sera Naiqama, Bronte Wilson, Fi Jones, Grace Hamilton, Loretta Mailangu, Leilani Nathan, Brooke McKinnon, Claudia Meltzer, Iliseva Batibasaa, Layne Morgan, Tatum Bird, Elly Ryan, Georgina Friedrichs, Jade Sheridan, Katrina Barker, Caitlyn Halse, Desiree Miller, Jacinta Windsor, Margot Vella, Maya Stewart.

Last year: For the first time ever the Waratahs suffered defeats ending their incredible 20-game win streak, before they fell short in one of the most incredible Super W matches ever played as the Fijiana Drua wrestled the Super W title out of their grip. Dominating the competition again throughout 2022, the Waratahs showed their brilliance with prop Bridie O'Gorman making headlines with her incredible runaway try against the Force, while wing Mahalia Murphy had tongues wagging with her try-scoring exploits. Shocked in round four by the highly skilled and flashy Drua side, the Tahs were determined to make a statement in the final, playing their own high-tempo exciting game plan alongside a strong structured set-piece, but they couldn't hold back a rampaging Drua in the closing minutes.

This year: With several big-name players heading to Europe, including fly-half Bella McKenzie, and the loss of Mahalia Murphy to the NRLW, the Waratahs will be looking to their youth to find redemption in 2023. While there remains plenty of international talent scattered throughout the squad, Campbell Aiken has pinned his hopes on young stars Brooke McKinnon and Claudia Meltzer to fill in McKenzie's vacant position, while the return of Wallaroos star Maya Stewart to the wing has bolstered their backline stocks. For the first time the Tahs head into the season as hunters instead of the hunted, and with a fresh mix in his squad coach Campbell Aiken believes there's plenty of excitement around the side this year: "I think it's more excitement. We've had the same squad now for probably five years with the same core group of players and now we've got a bunch of new younger players in and that excitement level for them is through the roof and it's actually trying to manage that more than anything."

Fixtures: Force [H], Brumbies [A], Drua [H], Reds [H], Rebels [A]

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