Uni competition helping strengthen Sevens ranks
13 September 2017
RUGBY SEVENS: Australian rugby sevens star Emilee Cherry has given a ringing endorsement for the new university-based women's competition, saying it will help the country remain an Olympic force.
Cherry and the rest of the national team would ordinarily be slaving away in pre-season mode at this time of year.
Instead, the Uni 7s tournament is giving Australia's elite players extra game time and Cherry said it was as just as good as anything they'll get in the women's World Series circuit.
"The standard has kind of blown us away," Cherry, a gold medallist at Rio 2016, told AAP.
"It's definitely going to help us not just find new talent and build our squad but those top girls (are) getting more game exposure and being fitter and more exposed to sevens.
"We only play six tournaments a year on the world series and other than that, we don't get to play."
Cherry's University of Queensland are undefeated halfway through the competition, with the penultimate round to be played this weekend at UQ before wrapping up at Bond University on the Gold Coast later this month.
She said a number of previously unknown players were mounting compelling cases for Australian contracts after catching coach Tim Walsh's eye over the first two rounds.
That should put more pressure on the current crop, who were unable to back up their success at Rio in the 2016-17 World Series, where they finished second to New Zealand.
"Looking back at all the games, we just didn't do the basics right. We had so many dropped balls and so many penalties which usually isn't in our game," Cherry said.
"Those are easy things to change."
Australia will play two or possibly three rounds of the next World Series before the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, where women's rugby sevens is on the program for the first time.
"It's a huge thing for us. Being at home, there's a lot of pressure on our team and there's a lot of talk about it but we're really excited to be able to show off our support in Australia," Cherry said.