The Qantas Australian Women's Sevens program has announced its list of contracted players for 2015.
Now in its second year of being a centralised in Sydney, national Women’s Head Coach Tim Walsh has made three additions to the contracted list with Chloe Dalton, Mollie Gray and Brooke Walker signing their first professional terms with the Australian Rugby Sevens program.
Twenty-one-year-old Dalton has been training with the Women’s Sevens squad since May, making her World Series debut for the national side in the first round of the World Series in Dubai earlier this month. The basketball representative has impressed management with her physicality and metronomic kicking ability.
Newcastle-born Mollie Gray, meanwhile, played for the Wallaroos in their 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup campaign in France as a lock and will bring an added edge to the squad's forward pack.
Queenslander Brooke Walker, originally from a Touch Football background, represented Australia in the Youth Olympic Festival in January 2013 as well as the Aussie Pearls in Noosa in October this year.
Australian Women's Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "Over the past 12-15 months, we have been slowly broadening our talent base across the Women's game in Australia.
"I've been hugely impressed with the progress Chloe has made over the past few months while Mollie is a fearless competitor who will add extra depth to our forwards. Brooke, meanwhile, has been training with us for a while and has impressed everyone with her skill-set. I’m looking forward to seeing how these players develop in a professional environment.
"I won’t shy away from the fact that our ultimate goal is to qualify for Rio, but it is also my job to look beyond 2016, towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the Olympics in Tokyo come 2020. Our work is never done, but I think I have a squad of players that can push each other all the way as we strive to be the best team we can possibly be.”
Mollie Gray, 25, said: “I am so excited to be handed a contract and to be able to play sport professionally. It is a dream come true for me and it will be so good to be surrounded by the experience that the girls already have but also to learn from the likes of Tim [Walsh] and the coaching staff. I’m looking forward to learning from everyone and working on the little things that will improve my game – I know that my hard work only starts now.
“What can I bring to the squad? Well I’m a forward that will bring a bit of size and strength to the group and hopefully add something with my ball running. In terms of my own ambitions, I’m keen to improve all aspects of my game. I’m no different to any of the players in the squad in that obviously I hope to earn selection for the World Series squads.
“I intend the make the most of this opportunity and it goes without saying that my long-term goal is help Australia earn qualification to the Olympics, represent Australia in Rio, and then my country at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.”
Cobie-Jane Morgan, Saofaiga Saemo, Maddison Elliott and Katrina Barker have been released from the Women’s Sevens program.
Walsh added: "Sport is littered with players coming back from adversity and I am looking forward to seeing how all four react to this disappointing news. I fully expect each of them to try their utmost to prove me wrong. I would like to place on record my thanks for their efforts while they have been with us."
Full list of contracted Qantas Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens players for 2015:
Brooke Anderson (aged 18). Place of Birth: Brighton-le-Sands, NSW
Nicole Beck (aged 26). Place of Birth: Bulli, NSW
Charlotte Caslick (aged 19). Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
Emilee Cherry (aged 22). Place of Birth: Roma, QLD. Hometown: Toowoomba, QLD
Rachel Crothers (aged 20). Place of Birth: Sunshine Coast, QLD
Chloe Dalton (aged 21). Place of Birth: Sydney, NSW. Hometown: Mona Vale, NSW
Nikki Etheridge (aged 28). Place of Birth: Tamworth, NSW. Hometown: Toowoomba, QLD
Gemma Etheridge (aged 28). Place of Birth: Tamworth, NSW. Hometown: Toowoomba, QLD
Mollie Gray (aged 25). Place of Birth: Maitland, NSW. Hometown: Newcastle, NSW
Ellia Green (aged 21). Place of Birth: Suva, Fiji. Hometown: Melbourne, VIC
Shannon Parry (aged 25). Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
Evania Pelite (aged 19). Place of Birth: Brisbane, QLD
Tiana Penitani (aged 18). Place of Birth: Canberra, ACT. Hometown: Maroubra, NSW
Alicia Quirk (aged 22). Place of Birth: Wagga Wagga, NSW
Taleena Simon (aged 22). Place of Birth: Sydney, NSW
Tanisha Stanton (aged 18). Place of Birth: Dubbo, NSW. Hometown: Newcastle, NSW
Emma Tonegato (aged 19). Place of Birth: Wollongong, NSW
Amy Turner (aged 30). Place of Birth: Tokoroa, New Zealand. Hometown: Brisbane, QLD.
Brooke Walker (aged 19). Hometown: Brisbane, QLD
Sharni Williams (aged 26). Place of Birth: Batlow, NSW. Hometown: Canberra, ACT
*Ages as at 19 December 2014