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Qantas 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 next week.
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.
All matches from the women's tournament will be streamed live at http://wsws.irb.com
Strong performances in this season's Women's Sevens World Series and next year's 2014/15 Sevens World Series will be part of Australia's quest to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The Qantas Men's Sevens will continue their World Series campaign in Dubai in the second round of the HSBC Sevens World Series taking place on the 29th and 30th of November.
Follow the Qantas Men's and Women's Sevens and their progress in Dubai with match updates on Twitter @Aussie7s.
Qantas Women's Seven's squad for the opening round of the 2013/14 IRB Women's Sevens World Series:
Toowoomba Bears, QLD
Power House, VIC
Sunshine Coast, QLD
Mount Isa, QLD
Cobie Jane Morgan
Wagga Wagga, NSW
Sharni Williams (c)
Canberra Royals, ACT
(Main photo courtesy of karenwatsonphotography.com.au )
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.