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By ARU Media Unit
The Aussie Pearls (women) and Aussie Thunderbolts (men) domestic Sevens sides have been named for the Noosa International Sevens this weekend, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October.
Thunderbolts coach, Michael O’Connor will be using the tournament to finalise selections for the Qantas Men’s Sevens team to play in the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series the following weekend.
With just two weeks until the HSBC Sevens World Series kicks off with Gold Coast Sevens Fever Pitch on 13-14 October, O’Connor sees Noosa as a crucial step to confirming his squad for the international fixture.
“This will help us firm up selections for the Gold Coast,” O’Connor said.
“We’re still looking to finalise the squad so this tournament will give us a good indicator.”
O’Connor has named a squad near full of players returning from injury, along with some new faces to the game of Sevens, and he hopes to get a clear indication from this weekend who is ready to step up to the international level.
“We’ve got six blokes locked away for our Gold Coast squad with the remaining spots up for grabs,” O’Connor said.
“We’ve got players who are coming off injury and some new players stepping up, so we’ve got to weigh that all up.”
O’Connor has chosen to rest a lot of experienced players, providing returning players the opportunity to prove their health in Noosa.
In all, seven players are returning from injury, with Sean McMahon, Shannon Walker, Damon Anderson, Cameron Clark, Jacob Taylor, Greg Jeloudev, Lewis Holland and Dan Yakopo making their way back to the paddock.
In addition, O’Connor is using the tournament as an opportunity to provide more experience to Will Miller and to blood newcomers Nick Malouf and Tom Ruediger to Rugby Sevens.
Malouf is a recent signing from the University of Queensland, while ACT-based Ruediger of Wests was recently provided an opportunity to train with the Australian Sevens squad on the recommendation of former Wallaby great Stephen Larkham.
Jordan Tuapou is the most experienced member of the squad and has been left in to provide direction for the forwards, who will be without experienced mainstays Ed Jenkins and Jesse Parahi.
“There’s good competition within the squad and the guys are hungry for game time in Noosa,” O’Connor said.
“It’s an opportunity for a lot of these guys to get more football under their belts because a lot of them are coming back from injury.”
Meanwhile coach Chris Lane has opted for a development squad with the Pearls in their first tournament of the 2012-13 season.
Lane has named a squad featuring three players with previous Sevens experience, while the remaining nine members have varying degrees of experience, none of which is Sevens based.
"It's a massive development opportunity for us,” Lane said.
"We're going to be playing a lot of new players and looking to develop them and get their experience levels up."
Alicia Quirk, Cheyenne Campbell and Daleena Dennison all have previous Sevens experience and Lane will be looking for them to help nurture the rest of the squad.
New to the squad, Noella Gree, Kearni Churchland and Jade Anderson have previous Rugby experience from the traditional form of the game, while Jess Palmer, Alex Sulusi, Emilee Andrews and Karina Brown have made the switch from Rugby league.
Also making a code switch, Kate Mullaly and Maddie Elliott’s only prior football experience comes from Oz Tag.
“It's just a continual search to broaden our playing base,” Lane said.
“This is what talent ID is about, we're just trying to expand our depth and give some talent we've identified an opportunity to accelerate their rugby development.
"We just want them to learn as much as they can in camp and then go out and play some good footy during the tournament.
“We're not expecting them to be Rugby whizzes straight away but they're certainly footballers.”
Aussie Pearls for Noosa Sevens
Aussie Thunderbolts for Noosa Sevens
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.