The ACT Brumbies will lean on experience of Wallaroos veteran Rebecca Smyth to give them the grit they need to chase down the Super W state powerhouses.
The Brumbies revealed their 34-strong squad for the upcoming Super W season on Friday, with the Australian international's arrival to offset the absence of former skipper Shellie Millward.
Millward will miss the season due to a shoulder injury, opening the door for up-and-coming talent to press for an opportunity in the national league.
Seventeen new players have joined Adam Butt's side including Smyth, who is preparing to make her Super W debut.
The 34-year-old backrower has played 15 matches since making her international debut in 2007 and was part of the team which placed third at the 2010 Rugby World Cup.
"Rebecca came to us, she showed up at the trial and started bashing the other girls," Butt said.
"She's tough and we love having her with us. She's strong and has been having babies, so her life is pretty full.
"Even before Christmas she fell off some monkey bars and broke her elbow and was out at training a couple of days later, she's one tough cookie.
"Losing Shellie is huge, not just in terms of her playing ability but also her leadership and work ethic. Rebecca will go a long way to help with that but I don't think Shellie can be replaced to be honest."
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Smyth joins fellow Wallaroos and experienced Brumbies players Louise Burrows and Michaela Leonard, with the latter to co-captain the side with Jane Garraway.
The duo are going into their third Super W season with the Brumbies and Leonard's rapid rise from a rugby rookie to the national stage accumulated in her first Australian cap last year.
"I said at training on Wednesday, 'it's the brain and the brawn' and the girls had to work out which one was which," Butt said.
"It got a few laughs, but it just gives that extra knowledge and bit of support to Michaela.
"Michaela and Jane are quite young but they've been around the squad for a while. You never know what issues and situations pop up on the field, so to have those two bounce off each other provides a bit more support for them. Hopefully that works."
The Brumbies have increased their squad by four players from 2019 in a bid to expose more promising youngsters to the Super W environment.
Playmaker Ella Ryan is expected to play a key role in the centres this season, while 17-year-old rookie Zali Waihape-Andrews has also impressed selectors in the club system.
"We want to expose a few of the younger players to the professional environment and the training that's required at this level so they can play for us in future years," Butt said.
"The girls coming through the academy and club systems are full on. They know their rugby and that's the sport they're dedicated to.
"It's going to show up in the team lists and the selection showed that, there's a lot of 17-year-old's in the squad and we're excited by that.
"Everyone knows about Ella Ryan and she's coming through, but keep an eye out for Zali as well. She's a bit of a workhorse and she's tough."
The Brumbies will open their season against Western Australia at Canberra Stadium on February 14.
All of the Brumbies games will be played as double-headers with Super Rugby, including two in Canberra.
"We're really lucky and humble to be able to do those double headers and get that familiarity with the stadiums," Butt said.
"They're the best stadiums in the country and it just opens the door to a better professional environment and hopefully the results reflect that."
BRUMBIES SUPER W SQUAD 2020
Forwards: Ellie Brislane, Louise Burrows, Peta Cox, Kathryn Cudaj, Harriet Elleman, Ash Fernandez, Krystal Fyfe, Grace Kemp, Michaela Leonard (c), Emma Masi, Tania Ofamasaga, Niki Paterson, Paige Penning, Pearl Rakete, Emily Soga, Rebecca Smyth, Tayla Stanford, Grace Sullivan, Jasmine Veikune, Iris Verebalavu, Zali Waihape-Andrews.
Backs: Biola Dawa, Jane Garraway (c), Allyssa Lolesio-, Phoebe Loughhead, Claudia Obst, Pesi Palu, Caitlin Quester, Gabrielle Petersen, Darcy Read, Ella Ryan, Ainsley Scrivener, Talei Wilson, Sammie Wood