The Australian Sevens team has a familiar look for the upcoming third round of the Women’s World Series in Las Vegas next week - with just one notable change.
Exciting try scorer Emma Tonegato returns to the fold having recovered from an elbow injury which kept her out of the home tournament earlier this month.
Coach Tim Walsh is excited by the prospect of participating in yet another dual World Series tournament and having the opportunity to stake their claim at the top.
“Las Vegas is a new venue for the Women’s Series and another step towards a joint Men’s and Women’s series,” said Walsh.
“It gives us another opportunity to cement our position at the top end of the table and compete for the World Series title again.”
Walsh has kept the squad from Sydney despite the Aussies, by their own standards, having put in a below par performance on Day Two, to finish in fourth place.
Australia will be even more determined to take the Vegas title off the back of that disappointment given it won the USA leg of the World Series last year in Atlanta with Emma Tonegato named Player of the Tournament.
Tonegato believes the outcome in Sydney was just a speed bump and the team is now refocused on the key objective for this season.
“We want to go back-to-back in the World Series - get a podium finish to show we aren’t one trick ponies,” she said.
“We’ve reviewed it (Sydney), we’ve moved on and now we are really focussed on Vegas.”
While Tiana Penitani has been dropped to make way for Tonegato, the retention of new talent in the form of Emma Sykes and Georgina Friedrichs, with just five caps between them, shows Walsh’s continued investment in the development of future depth.
At the other end of the scale is the experience of Emilee Cherry who chalked up 20 caps in Sydney.
Joining Cherry in the twenties when they run out in Las Vegas, will be the team’s co-captains Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry.
In what is a rare occurrence, Australia finds itself in a pool with arch nemesis New Zealand – the two teams having finished below expectation in Sydney and therefore having been ranked accordingly in the Pool draw for Las Vegas.
Adding interest to Pool C is the inclusion of England, normally a strong performer but having had a horror run over the two days of the Sydney tournament ultimately finishing near the bottom of the table.
Despite the recent results, the Aussies still view the Kiwis as their key threat to success across the season. While New Zealand will also be out to prove that a second round bronze medal finish, off the back of a title win to start the series, is not good enough.
What Sydney 7s did prove however, is that the strength of the Women’s competition is intensifying and the list of contenders for top positions is growing.
Qantas Australian Women’s squad, HSBC Las Vegas7s
Shannon Parry (c)
Sharni Williams (c)
Day One – Saturday 4 March (AEDT)
Australia v England – 5.07am (AEDT)
Australia v Brazil – 7.52am (AEDT)
Australia v New Zealand – 10.15am (AEDT)