One eye on next gen for Manenti and Aussie Sevens

by Sarah Friend

Australian women’s Sevens coach John Manenti has the next generation firmly in sight as his side prepares for the 2018-19 World Series.

It's been just over a month since the side finished with bronze at the World Cup and with the first World Series tournament in Denver on October 20, any changes need to happen quickly. 

The Aussies have a big casualty ward after a host of their stars underwent off-season surgery.

Emma Tonegato (shoulder) and Alicia Quirk (knee) are unlikely to be back for that first tournament, opening the door for some of the next generation to step up.

"I’ve had really good look at last season, what we did well what we didn’t do well," Manenti said.

"We’re looking at strengthening our strengths and working on some of the things that we’re doing well, then working on some of the hard areas that we felt let us down last year.


"At the moment I still have a few girls that have had off-season operations and things so we’re still a bit light on." 

But as one door closes another opens and the first leg of the Uni 7s has proved the perfect platform for Manenti to scope out some possible rising stars.

The national side had a number of non-contracted players training with the team this week and Manenti said that would continue.

"We’re sort of keeping development girls coming in, using Aon as a real tool to bring girls into the training with us," he said.

"Those games are very live not just for their own tournament point of view but their future."

Teenager Jakiya Whitfeld is one player who caught Manenti's attention, bursting onto the scene with six tries in Sydney Uni’s tournament debut.

"I think young Jakiya Whitfeld from Sydney University certainly caught everybody’s eye with her performances and Alysia Lefau- Fakaosilea did really well," he said.

"She copped a knock so she’ll probably be out the next one but we’re keen to follow the progress and consistency of some of the girls."

"We’re looking at those girls and others to see if they can back their first tournament up with a strong second and third tournaments.

"We’ve got quite a few things planned on the development front for the next twelve months, plenty of opportunity for the next best girls to play against international teams."

The next leg of the Aon Uni 7s is on Saturday September 8 at the University of Canberra.