Macquarie University has placed an emphasis on youth in the 21-woman squad named for the inaugural Women’s Aon Uni 7s series.
Rays coach Nathan McMahon has brought three of the Bahamas golden girls into the group looking to capitalise on their success and build on that positive experience, further developing their talents.
McMahon has a particular philosophy about the inclusion of youth and feels that these three teens, Page McGregor, Bella McKenzie and Layne Morgan, will be up for the challenge.
“We’ve adopted the philosophy at the Rays that if you are good enough, you are old enough and that is the case with these three girls,” he said.“I think they are the next wave of talent that is coming through off the back of the boost Women’s Sevens got after the gold medal in Rio.”
That Rio influence will indeed be present for those young girls with the substantial experience of Aussie Sevens playmaker Chloe Dalton in the team.
Her skill with the boot as well as her ability to break through the opposition line will be a key advantage in this competition.
Add that to the inclusion of 2014 World Cup Wallaroo Nita Maynard and there should be no lack of guidance around the field for this young side.
McMahon believes there may be an expectation on his team to perform well but acknowledges the weight of the opposition – especially with three strong teams from north of the border.
“There’s obviously pressure there being the only Sydney based side and an expectation to do well - the target is on our backs,” he said.
Being the only Sydney side does have its advantages.
The coaching staff will be taking the squad to Narrabeen this weekend to focus the group and use the facilities at the Sydney Academy of Sport – home of the Aussie Sevens unit.
Rays assistant coach is a man who will feel right at home there - Aussie Men’s veteran James Stannard - who will take the reins for the first tournament of the series, in Tasmania on August 25.
This weekend camp will see the squad not only working hard on the field but off it, with the intention for it to also be an exercise in consolidating team identity and values.
Macquarie University is scheduled to host the second leg of the series on September 9-10 following the opening round in Launceston a fortnight earlier.
Macquarie University ‘Sydney Rays’ Uni7s squad
Dominique du Toit
Donnay Van Talk