Big guns back for Aussie women

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Australian Women's Sevens will welcome back two of their biggest stars as they attempt history in France.

Co-captain Sharni Williams and star speedster Ellia Green will return to the side for the final World Series leg, with Australia vying to take the series title.

Williams hasn't played since the opening tournament in Dubai last December, undergoing knee surgery in a bid to be fully fit for the Olympics, while Green has missed the last two tournaments with a shoulder injury.

Shannon Parry has been leading the side in Williams' absence and the pair will share skipper duties in France next weekend.

Australian Sevens coach Tim Walsh said splitting the responsibilities would give Williams a chance to focus more fully on her fitness.

"Shannon has led the team as captain terrifically well over the past three tournaments and making her co-captain takes some of the load from Sharni's shoulders," he said.

"It really allows her to focus on performance after a lengthy injury.

"Our priority first and foremost is to get Sharni firing again and getting back to the form that sees her as one of the premier forwards in the game."

Ellia Green will be a welcome addition to the Women's Sevens team this week.Photo: Getty ImagesWith Alicia Quirk, Charlotte Caslick and Emma Tonegato also back in the squad after being rested in Canada, the squad to play in France is Australia's most experienced ever named in a World Series tournament (159 caps) and very much a preview of the team that will be heading to Rio in August.

Australia needs to finish at least sixth in Clermont to take the 2015-16 overall World Series title and become the first country outside of New Zealand to claim the trophy.

The Aussie women have won three of the four legs of the series this year - Dubai, Sao Paulo and Atlanta - before finishing third in the most recent tournament in Langford with a young team.

Walsh said they wouldn't be letting any complacency sneak into their game in France, aware of the opportunity they had to clinch the title.

"The squad has laid down the foundations for a history-making opportunity," he said.

"To win a world title does not come around very often and to win the most prestigious series in Women's Rugby would be a huge honour. The series demands respect and that is what we have given it from day one.

"Also, what better way to prepare for an Olympics?"

The Clermont-Ferrand Sevens kicks off on May 28-29, with Australia facing Fiji, Ireland and France in its pool for the series finale.


Australian Women's Sevens fixtures in Clermont, France, May 28-29

Australia v Fiji, Pool C, 8.28pm AEST (28 May)

Australia v Ireland, Pool C, 11.12pm AEST (28 May)

Australia v France, Pool C, 1.56am AEST (29 May)

Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens squad for the France Sevens at Clermont-Ferrand 28-29 May:

1. Shannon Parry

2. Sharni Williams

3. Nicole Beck

4. Tiana Penitani

5. Emma Tonegato

6. Evania Pelite

7. Charlotte Caslick

8. Chloe Dalton

9. Amy Turner

10. Alicia Quirk

11. Emilee Cherry

12. Ellia Green

13th player. Georgie Friedrichs