Youth the key to Macquarie Uni's success

Uni 7s
by Jill Scanlon

The Macquarie University Sydney Rays will start the Aon Uni 7s series in Tasmania this weekend with a tantalising mixture of youth and experience in their squad.

The experience will be provided by captain Emily Chancellor and Nita Maynard while Katie Harrison, Layne Morgan, Arabella McKenzie and the McGregor sisters (Page and Raecene) are the youngsters looking to make a mark in Launceston.

Morgan was this week named NSW Youth Player of the Year and is highly rated by the Rays coaching staff, while Harrison and McKenzie have speed to burn.

Harrison, Morgan and Page McGregor were all part of the team which won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in late July which means the Sydney Rays have a formidable line-up from teens through to the experienced campaigners.Aussie Sevens stalwart is helping guide Macquarie University's Uni 7s campaign. Photo: Ben DolphinAussie Sevens stalwart James Stannard, Australia’s most experienced Men’s Sevens player, is the Macquarie Uni assistant coach and will have the reins for the first tournament while head coach Nathan McMahon is away on his honeymoon.

“We’re venturing into the unknown with this tournament,” said Stannard.

“Everyone’s new to this series so we’re just keen to get out there in a game environment and try some of the things that we have been working on at training.

“The squad has come together really well these past few weeks and we’re just keen to get things underway.”

Unfortunately, the Rays will have to do without the services of Olympic gold medallist Chloe Dalton for the first round, due to a mild calf niggle suffered last week during training with the national squad.

The 25-year-old is far from happy with the early season setback as she was keen to set a marker with the World Series around the corner and Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next April.Chloe Dalton won't feature in Launceston. Photo: Getty ImagesOn the positive side, Dalton’s rugby knowledge will not be lost to the group as the lanky playmaker will still be a part of the tournament in Launceston, doing commentary for the LIVE stream.

She will also be lending a hand around the playing group in a pre and post-match role.

“Losing a player of Chloe’s calibre is never good at any stage but we’re hoping to use her in our warm-ups and debriefings after games,” Stannard said.

“Just having her around the squad through the tournament will be beneficial but we have come up with what we think is a very handy squad.”

Dominique du Toit is the second of the Rays' national squad players and she is fit and ready to go.

She trained with the wider squad on Tuesday night and is looking for some serious game time this weekend.

The Rays have been drawn in Pool A and will play games against University of Tasmania, University of New England and Griffith University on Friday.