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By ARU Media Unit
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh has made three changes to the squad that will travel to China next week for the fourth leg of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.
Forward Kirby Sefo and Nicole Beck are set for their IRB World Series debuts, while Gemma Etheridge will play in her first IRB World Series event since February 2013 after recovering from an injury to her ACL.
Head Coach Tim Walsh said: “Gemma [Etheridge] has only been back in full training with the squad for two weeks and she hasn’t missed a beat. She has already made an impression on the squad and has slotted right back in.
“Kirby [Sefo] will bring an abrasive edge to our play. She is very athletic and is very good at dominating around the ruck area. As for Nicole [Beck], she has already figured in the IRB World Cup in 2009 and is an intelligent player with great awareness. She is an extremely competitive girl and a good decision-maker.
Walsh led the Women’s Sevens side to a memorable win in Sao Paulo in February, but said the team hasn’t been resting on their laurels in the intervening five weeks.
“We’ve been working hard on our core skills such as our ball possession while maintaining our conditioning and fitness. We have a real desire to win this one.”
Australia has been drawn in the same group as Ireland, Fiji and England, but it is the latter who Walsh sees as a genuine threat in the 50,000 Guangzhou Uni Town Stadium.
“We’re obviously expecting New Zealand and Canada to be up there once again. But I think England will be a tough proposition as they will have their 15s players back in the fold following the Six Nations. The English can be really competitive and the same goes for Ireland. We’ll have to be at our best to top the pool.”
Saofaiga Saemo, Tiana Penitani, Brooke Anderson, Nikki Etheridge and Evania Pelite are all sidelined with injury.
Australia (56 points) currently sits joint-top with New Zealand at the top of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series standings having won two of the three tournaments in the 2013/14 season so far.
All of the action from China will be streamed live at wsws.irb.com. Follow the Qantas Men’s and Women’s Sevens with updates on Twitter @Aussie7s
Australian Women’s Sevens fixtures in Guangzhou, China, 5 April:
Australia v Ireland, Pool B, 2.28pm (AEDT)
Australia v Fiji, Pool B, 5.12pm (AEDT)
Australia v England, Pool B, 7.56pm (AEDT)
Australian Women’s Sevens squad for the 2013 - 2014 IRB Sevens World Series in Guangzhou, China:
Shannon Parry. Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
Nicole Beck. Place of Birth: Bulli, NSW
Emilee Cherry. Place of Birth: Roma, QLD
Gemma Etheridge. Place of Birth: Tamworth, NSW
Rachel Crothers. Place of Birth: Sunshine Coast, QLD
Amy Turner. Club: Tokoroa, New Zealand
Cobie Jane Morgan. Place of Birth: Gosford, NSW
Alicia Quirk. Place of Birth: Wagga Wagga, NSW
Emma Tonegato. Place of Birth: Wollongong, NSW
Charlotte Caslick. Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
Kirby Sefo. Place of Birth: Tokoroa, New Zealand
Sharni Williams - captain. Place of Birth: Batlow, NSW
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.