Roar women ready for title defence

The Westfield W-League kicks off for Brisbane Roar this weekend with a new captain and some new faces, but Claire Polkinghorne is hoping for business as usual at Ballymore Stadium on Saturday.

The Westfield W-League kicks off for Brisbane Roar this weekend with a new captain and some new faces, but Claire Polkinghorne is hoping for business as usual at Ballymore Stadium on Saturday.

Polkinghorne has stepped into the big shoes left by previous captain Kate McShea, but said she had no plans to change her game to fit her new role as the defending champions look to start their season with a bang against Canberra United.

In fact, football may not be the biggest hurdle this season for the uncompromising defender.

“Not much will change on the field, it-ll just be the off field matters like talking to the media that will be a bit of a challenge for me,” Polkinghorne said.

“On the pitch I-ll just do what I normally do.”

Saturday-s match at Ballymore will pit last season-s grand finalists against each other once again.

The history books will show the Roar were victorious 2-0 to claim the inaugural Westfield W-League title, but fresh in the minds of both players and coaching staff was the surprise second round 1-0 loss to the same opponents at Perry Park.

Coach Jeff Hopkins said nobody would be taking Canberra lightly, despite facing a new-look side from the nation-s capital.

“They-ve lost a lot of players, but they-ve replaced them quite well,” Hopkins said.

“Fortunately most of our players were away at a Matildas camp last week and they played against them.

“So we-ve actually seen what type of team they are without them seeing us, we-re not going into it expecting anything else but a really tough game.

“They were quite physical last weekend and very organised and that is exactly what they brought to us last year.

“We maybe at the beginning of last year went into the game (with Canberra) thinking it was going to be a little bit easier than it was and they really showed us what a good outfit they were.”

Hopkins will virtually get a new player back into his squad with the return from a knee reconstruction of striker Jenna Tristram who was injured in that round two loss against Canberra.

However, he will still be without the influential midfield general Alicia Ferguson as she continues rehabilitation from her own knee reconstruction.

The Roar mentor has added plenty of experience to the squad to cover that loss with the inclusion of Matilda Jo Burgess and Australian player Aivi Luik who has been plying her trade for FC Indiana in the United States.

“I think Jo-s experience and the pace she brings will give us a new dimension up front,” Hopkins said.

“Obviously after losing an experience player like Alicia (Ferguson) last year to a knee injury we needed to replace her, so Aivi has come in.

“She-s a similar type of player and in the pre-season games she-s been playing alongside Lauren Colthorpe so that looks to be an exciting combination.”

Brisbane Roar Women will take on Canberra United at Ballymore Stadium on Saturday at 3pm. Tickets are available at the gate and are $5 for adults and $3 for students and concession.

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