Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh will hand debuts to two players for the Sao Paulo leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series which kicks off next weekend (20-21 February).
Lightning winger Taleena Simon and the powerful Mahalia Murphy - both products of Australia’s Indigenous Rugby program, the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team – have earned selection to the national side after impressing in training and with their performances in the three-match exhibition series against Ireland at the HSBC Sydney 7s.
Skipper Sharni Williams (knee), Chloe Dalton (arm), Tiana Penitani (knee) and Brooke Walker (leg) are all unavailable due to injury.
Qantas Australian Women’s Head Coach Tim Walsh said: “Taleena [Simon] and Mahalia [Murphy] have great potential and both offer the squad points of difference. This is a real opportunity for them to test themselves against some of the world’s elite athletes on a global stage.
“Dubai was an excellent start to the season and an important contribution to our seeding as we look ahead to the Rio Olympics. The challenge for us is to continually improve our performance while also building depth in the program. As a group, we are always looking for challenges that put us out of our comfort zone and there’s no doubt Sao Paulo will provide a huge challenge for everyone.”
In the absence of Sharni Williams, in-form forward Shannon Parry will captain the side in Sao Paulo and is relishing the challenge that lies in front of the Australians.
“We have been working incredibly hard since our return from Dubai on maintaining our high standards. The three-match series against Ireland last weekend was the perfect opportunity to keep us nice and sharp and was a good test for us.”
The Aussies have been placed in a testing Pool A for the tournament at the 31,000-seater stadium at the Arena Barueri and will play fast-improving Fiji, Ireland and last year’s World Series runners-up Canada.
Australia currently leads the fledgling HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series standings with 20 points after their win in Dubai, followed closely by Russia (18 points) and England (16).
Qantas Australian Women's Sevens fixtures in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 21-22 February
Australia v Fiji, Pool A, 12.44am AEDT (21 February)
Australia v Ireland, Pool A, 3.28am AEDT (21 February)
Australia v Canada, Pool A, 6.12am AEDT (21 February)
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens squad for the Brazil Sevens at the Arena Barueri in Sao Paulo, Brazil:
1. Shannon Parry. Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
2. Taleena Simon. Place of Birth: Sydney, NSW
3. Nicole Beck. Place of Birth: Bulli, NSW
4. Gemma Etheridge. Place of Birth: Tamworth, NSW. Hometown: Toowoomba, QLD
5. Emma Tonegato. Place of Birth: Wollongong, NSW
6. Evania Pelite. Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
7. Charlotte Caslick. Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
8. Mahalia Murphy. Place of Birth: Sydney, NSW
9. Amy Turner. Place of Birth: Tokoroa, NZ
10. Alicia Quirk. Place of Birth: Wagga Wagga, NSW
11. Emilee Cherry. Place of Birth: Roma, QLD. Hometown: Toowoomba, QLD