Rugby Sevens Teams named for Dubai25 November 2013
RUGBY SEVENS: The Australian men's and women's Rugby Sevens sides have been named ahead of the Dubai 7s World Series.
Men's Sevens Coach, Michael O'Connor has announced a squad full of experience for the second 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series round in Dubai next Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November.
Nine players who starred in the Qantas Men's Sevens impressive opening 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series round on the Gold Coast will return for their next stint in Dubai.
The squad features a line-up of Australia's biggest Rugby Sevens stars, including Shannon Walker, Jesse Parahi and Sean McMahon.
Con Foley, who was awarded The Qantas Men's Sevens Player of the Year and Shawn McKay Award - Sevens Player of the Year at last month's 2013 John Eales Medal has also been named in the team.
Former Qantas Wallaby and Super Rugby dynamo, Luke Morahan has been included, with Sevens regulars, Lewis Holland, Sean McMahon and Greg Jeloudev.
With two Rugby World Cup Sevens campaigns and a Commonwealth Games silver medal under his belt, Morahan is a timely bonus for the Men's 2013/14 World Series campaign.
Lewis Holland and Greg Jeloudev will further bolster the team's ability, having each amassed an impressive 440 points between them since they debuted for Australia in the 2010/11 World Series.
Stalwart Sevens crusader and 2013 Gold Coast Sevens Player of the Tournament, Ed Jenkins will remain at the helm as captain as the team looks to go one better than their first round runner-up spot on the Gold Coast.
O'Connor said he's assembled one of the most experienced squads for Dubai.
"We've put together our best possible squad. Sometimes it's difficult with players out with injury, but this time we've managed to put together a good collection of players.
"It's a well-balanced team, with a lot of those who played on the Gold Coast. In my opinion, it's the best squad we could have going into the next round," O'Connor said.
The Qantas Men's Sevens will play against Wales, Scotland and Spain in Pool B at next week's tournament.
Asked about the Aussies' pool, O'Connor said the team has enormous respect for the teams Australia will face in their pool matches.
"I never make predictions about these tournaments; it's certainly not an easy field. I don't think we can take away from the sides we play as they're all very good."
SQUAD: Paul Asquith, Con Foley, Lewis Holland, Greg Jeloudev, Ed Jenkins (c), Tom Lucas, Nick Malouf, Sean McMahon, Luke Morahan, Jesse Parahi, James Stannard, Shannon Walker
Women's Sevens Coach, Tim Walsh has named a strong side mixed with youth and experience for the opening 2013/14 IRB Women's World Series round in Dubai.
Dual Australian Women's Player of the Year recipient, Sharni Williams will once again take the reins as Captain of the Qantas Women's Sevens for their first World Series round on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 November.
The Women's squad includes five 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens squad members, including Amy Turner, Charlotte Caslick, Shannon Parry, Saofaiga Saemo and Australia's leading try scorer in last year's World Series round in Dubai, Emilee Cherry.
Three new key talents have been selected to make their IRB Women's Sevens World Series debuts, including 18-year-old Emma Tonegato from NSW, who recently completed her Year 12 HSC exams.
Emma was an integral member of the Gold Medal winning Australian Women's Youth Olympic Team during the inaugural Youth Olympics held in Sydney in January this year. She was also a member of the 2013 Australian Women's rugby league team that won the World Cup in July.
Beach sprinting champion and Australian Defence Force member, Rachel Crothers, will add extra speed to the team. The 19-year-old earned her way into the World Series squad after recent standout performances for Australia at the Shanghai Sevens and Coral Coast Sevens in Fiji.
Hanna Sio, sister of Parramatta Eels star, Ken Sio, will also make her way onto the World Series stage following impressive performances in the Australian Development team at the Shanghai Sevens in October.
Emma, Rachel and Hanna are among a number of women making their mark in the fast and fun-filled game of Rugby Sevens, with the prospect of representing Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Australia finished fifth behind the United States, Canada, England and New Zealand, in the very first Women's Sevens World Series in 2012/13. The Aussie women will kick off their 2013/14 campaign taking on Canada, Brazil and France in Pool C in Dubai.
Walsh is in his first World Series as the Qantas Women's Sevens Coach and believes the team is ready for the challenge of the opening round.
"The first round of a World Series is always an eye opener. New players, coaches, referees, teams and opportunities all result in an exciting battle on and off the field," Walsh said.
"Despite the geographical boundaries, the team has had a gruelling pre-season involving plenty of intensive camps.
"Strength and conditioning results suggest we are fitter than we've ever been and, with many players gaining experience from last season, we're going into the opening round well prepared.
"The side has a good balance of powerful ball runners, accurate ball distributers and speed with the inclusion of Rachel Crothers, Emma Tonegato, Ellia Green and Emilee Cherry," Walsh said.
SQUAD: Shannon Parry, Hanna Sio, Emilee Cherry, Saofaiga Saemo, Rachel Crothers, Amy Turner, Cobie Jane Morgan, Alicia Quirk, Emma Tonegato, Charlotte Caslick, Ellia Green, Sharni Williams (c)
Strong performances in this season's Sevens World Series, next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2014/15 Sevens Sevens World Series will be part of Australia's quest to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Both days of the men's HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Dubai will be broadcast live on Fox Sports on Friday 29 from 3.30pm and Saturday 30 from 4:00pm. All matches will be streamed live at http://www.irbsevens.com/index.html.
All matches from the women's tournament will be streamed live at http://wsws.irb.com/.
Australian Rugby Union