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Pathway to Gold delivers another debutant

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By ARU Media Unit

Australian Rugby Union’s Pathway to Gold Talent ID program has unearthed a second national Sevens player, with Perth’s Natasha Haines set to make her international Rugby Sevens debut in Hong Kong. 
Haines has been called into the Qantas Women’s Sevens as injury cover for Amy Turner ahead of the Qantas Women’s Sevens next two tournaments in Hong Kong and China.
A former Victorian Touch Football representative, Haines was also the 2008 season winner of the popular television show Gladiators. 
The 31-year-old attended one of Australian Rugby Union’s Pathway to Gold Talent ID camps in Perth, was one of 80 players selected nationally to advance to a second trial camp and was one of five players identified at the second camp to train with the Australian Sevens squad.
Recent debutant, Ellia Green, was the first player from the Talent ID program to be selected in the Qantas Women’s Sevens squad. 
Green, a former track star from Melbourne, burst onto the international scene during her maiden international tournament in Houston with a match-winning try against New Zealand in the third-place playoff.
Like Green in Houston, the Hong Kong tournament will be Haines’ first with the Australian Women’s Sevens team, a suitable reward for the hard-working West Australian who plays her Club Rugby for Cottesloe.
The tour will also feature a further two debutants, with Sydney high school students Tiana Penitani and Brooke Anderson being named in the side following injuries to Houston squad members d’Arcy Sadler and Gemma Etheridge.
While this will be their first time representing Australia at the senior level, both Anderson and Penitani have already won a Gold medal as members of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival team which defeated China 40-0 in the AYOF Rugby Sevens Gold-medal match in Sydney earlier this year.
Lane said all three debutants had worked hard and their selection was a further indication of the depth being developed in women’s Rugby Sevens in Australia.
“We’ve got two girls in the squad who have come through the Talent ID program and two that have come through the Australian Youth Olympic Festival,” Lane said.
“That’s four out of 12 players in this squad that have come through development initiatives, which goes to show that the work being put in behind the scenes is delivering results.”
Lane’s squad for the non-IRB sanctioned Hong Kong tournament and the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in Guangzhou, China, features the return of two key players from injury, with both captain Rebecca Tavo and speedster Emilee Cherry back in action.
Both Tavo and Cherry return for the first time since Dubai last year, giving the side a boost ahead of the penultimate round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in China.
The Qantas Women’s Sevens are currently ranked second in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, with two rounds left to play.
The Hong Kong Sevens features 12 teams competing over one day, with Australia set to meet Kazakhstan and an international invitational team in pool play.
Australia has been seeded first in Pool B for the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in China, where they will meet Canada, Japan and Ireland in pool play.
The Qantas Women’s Sevens will contest the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday 22 March before traveling to Guangzhou, China, for the third round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series being held 30-31 March.

Qantas Women’s Sevens Hong Kong/China squad




Based (originally from)


Rebecca Tavo (C)

Brisbane, QLD (Port Hedland, WA)


Sharni Williams

Brisbane, QLD (Canberra, ACT)


Shontelle Stowers

Lane Cove, NSW


Ellia Green

Murrumbeena, VIC


Nikki Etheridge

Brisbane, QLD (Toowoomba, QLD)


Jess Palmer

West Ryde, NSW


Tiana Penitani (debut)

Matraville, NSW


Natasha Haines (debut)

Perth, WA (Melbourne, VIC)


Iliseva Batibasaga

Kensington, NSW


Cobie-Jane Morgan

Brisbane, QLD, (Erina, NSW)


Emilee Cherry

Brisbane, QLD (Toowoomba, QLD)


Brooke Anderson (debut)

Brighton Le Sands, NSW

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