Four AYOF stars leap into Senior 7's
6 May 2013
RUGBY SEVENS: Qantas Women’s Sevens coach Chris Lane has named his squad for London and Amsterdam, the final two tournaments before the Rugby World Cup Sevens, and it includes four of the standout players from his 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival side.
The Australians will compete at the non-IRB sanctioned London Sevens this weekend before heading to Amsterdam for the final round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series the following weekend.
Lane has continued to tweak his squad ahead of their title defence at the World Cup in Moscow in June, this time naming three debutants for the upcoming tournaments.
In all, Lane has made six changes to the squad which finished seventh in China, including the introduction of Charlotte Caslick, Evania Pelite and Saofaiga Saemo to international Sevens for the first time.
“We’ve got a fair dinkum squad of 20 to 25 players who are all in legitimate consideration for World Cup selection, so it’s great for us in terms of depth,” Lane said.
“We’re still using every tournament we have to get our combinations working and have a look at different players at the international level.”
Caslick and Pelite were the captain and vice-captain of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival Sevens team, coached by Lane, which won a Gold medal in Sydney earlier this year.
Along with Tiana Penitani and Brooke Anderson, the squad now features four members of the AYOF Gold medal-winning side.
“Charlotte and Evania are both Australian Touch Football representatives and members of our team that won Gold in the Youth Olympics,” Lane said.
“They’ve been given an opportunity and have excelled at recent camps, so they’ve earned the right to challenge for World Cup selection. They’re both very talented young Rugby players.”
With her selection, Saemo becomes the third national player to emerge from the Australian Rugby Union Pathway to Gold Talent ID program, following in the footsteps of Ellia Green and Natasha Haines.
“Saofaiga was given an opportunity back in November to train with our national squad and everything she has done since then has been world class,” Lane said.
“She’s worked really hard and she realises she has a great opportunity here so I’m looking forward to seeing her make the most of it.”
In addition to the three debutants, Lane has brought in Katrina Barker, Alicia Quirk and Shannon Parry.
Cobie-Jane Morgan, Ellia Green and Iliseva Batibasaga are all unavailable due to injury, while Rebecca Tavo, Jess Palmer and Natasha Haines have all been rested.
The squad will be captained by Sharni Williams, who recently led ACT to victory in the National Women’s Rugby Sevens Championships.
Lane said the changes would allow him and fellow coaches to continue to craft their plans for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
“I’ve got no doubts every player is up to it skill wise, but it’s a matter of finding the right combination for World Cup success,” Lane said.
“We’re seeing the rewards of all the development work we’ve done. We’ve got depth and competition within the squad. Each time we sit down to select a squad, it’s becoming a harder and harder task.”
The Australians kick off pool play against Spain at 7:50pm (AEST), followed by France at 10:52pm (AEST), both on Saturday 11 May. Their final pool match is against England at 2:06am on Sunday 12 May.
Qantas Women’s Sevens London/Amsterdam squad
Name Based (originally from) Club:
1 Shannon Parry Brisbane, QLD Redlands, QLD
2 Sharni Williams (C) Brisbane, QLD (Canberra, ACT) Royals, ACT
3 Shontelle Stowers Lane Cove, NSW Warringah, NSW
4 Saofaiga Saemo* Melbourne, VIC Power House, VIC
5 Nikki Etheridge Brisbane, QLD (Toowoomba, QLD) Toowoomba Bears, QLD
6 Katrina Barker Sydney, NSW NA
7 Tiana Penitani Matraville, NSW Maroubra, NSW
8 Evania Pelite* Brisbane, QLD NA
9 Alicia Quirk Brisbane, QLD(Wagga Wagga, NSW) Sunnybank, QLD
10 Brooke Anderson Brighton Le Sands, NSW Southern Districts, NSW
11 Emilee Cherry Brisbane, QLD (Toowoomba, QLD) Toowoomba Bears, QLD
12 Charlotte Caslick* Brisbane, QLD NA
*Denotes player on debut
Australian Rugby Union