Wallaroos would welcome Sevens back for World Cup

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallaroos would welcome back Sevens converts in 2017, as they world towards next year’s World Cup in Ireland.

Sevens co-captains Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry would be the most high-profile ex-Wallaroos who could return for the tournament, though they would need to be released temporarily from Sevens duties.

The Sevens running out in Rio. Photo: Getty ImagesWilliams and Parry both cut their teeth in the XVs game, playing in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups,  before switching to the Sevens format, ultimately leading the Aussies to an Olympic gold medal.

The Wallaroos opposition on Saturday night has not shied away from bringing Sevens players back into their side, with Portia Woodman headlining a group who made the cut, after playing in New Zealand's provincial competition.

Front rower Louise Burrows said anything that would improve their chances of success at the quadrennial tournament would be worth it.

“The black ferns, they’ve got some sevens girls this weekend that want to play and I think for the girls can play XVs why wouldn’t we want to have strongest we can have?,” she said.

“We want to be competitive on world stage and that means having the ability to pick the best squad possible.

“If those girls really want to play with the Wallaroos...that’s an opportunity for them help us as individual players as well, for us to be competitive at a World Cup, absolutely.”

Portia Woodman in action in Rio. Photo: Getty ImagesWallaroos coach Paul Verrell said earlier this week that the duo would be welcomed with open arms to play a part in the World Cup campaign, but would need to spend a decent time with the squad.

“The opportunity's there hopefully for those girls to cross over,” he said.

“If they come on board, I'd like to have them for a longer period of time just  to adjust their training and conditioning wise.

“We've seen a lot of girls that have had a go at sevens that have crossed over and come back to 15s and promoting Sevens is going to be really good because we've got to get the girls into some form of rugby.

“They're all not going to go to the Olympics, so there's another avenue for them with the Wallaroos.

“Hopefully, we can build both codes - Sevens and XVs - both forms and develop women's rugby.”

Sevens is seen as the way to get more women playing rugby, after the success of the women in Rio, and that format is growing exponentially but Burrows said XVs needed to find its niche in the market as well.

“I think it’s so important that it does [maintain its place],” she said.

“XVs rugby is a game for everybody, it’s accepting for all shapes and size.

“I can’t sprint 100m [fast[ but I can pack a scrum, throw a lineout, there’s a position for everybody.

“People enjoy watching XVs and we’re getting exposure and this weekend there’s ability to watch us play back home, so hopefully we get a really good audience.

The 2017 Women’s World Cup kicks off in August next year in Ireland.