New Aussie Sevens coach not afraid to phone a friend

Womens - Kitakyushu
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Interim Aussie women’s Sevens coach John Manenti has the team reins for the first time this week, but his predecessor is just a phone call away.

Manenti will lead the team until the end of the 2017-18 season, with Olympic-winning coach Tim Walsh stepping down after the Commonwealth Games.

Walsh and Manenti have worked together with the team for more than two seasons and the former Eastwood coach said he wasn’t afraid to seek out Walsh for advice ahead of this weekend’s Kitakyushu Sevens.

“It's funny at times, we sort of have a few laughs about what Walshy would do, and (that) I'm going to do things differently but there's not that much changing to be honest,” he said.

“I'll obviously in the next 24 hours have a chat to him and make sure I'm on the right track with a few of my thoughts and things that we're doing.

John Manenti has taken the Aussie Sevens' reins for the rest of the season. Photo: Rugby AU Media"I'm very lucky with the group, there's so many of them that have been around before and I've worked with them for 2-3 years, so between their knowledge and my knowledge, collectively we're reasonably comfortable we're heading in the right place.

“From a personal point of view, I'm wrapped and really enjoying the challenge.”

The Japan World Series leg comes just a week after the Commonwealth Games, a rare opportunity for the women to play back-to-back tournaments.

While the men play their World Series in blocks of two, the women’s series is shorter and more spaced out, with a short turnaround a new challenge for the side.

After the heartbreak of an epic extra-time Commonwealth Games final loss, Manenti said the quick restart was a blessing in disguise.

“It's not often you get the chance to go around the week after you had a bit of a heartbreak I suppose, so at least we get to flush that out of our system and hopefully our performance here will do that,” he said.

“The girls have recovered well and travelled well and they're all pretty excited today at training, just want to be back on the field.”

The Aussies have named two debutants in their side, which plays China, Ireland and Spain in the pool stages, with injuries forcing some change.

Yasmin Meakes is making her aussie Sevens debut. Photo: Rugby AU MediaYasmin Meakes and Lauren Brown are the new faces, called up after impressive showings in last year’s Uni7s.

Meakes, who only starting playing Sevens in that series, said she still couldn’t believe she was with the team in Japan.

“It's phenomenal. I didn't think it was going to happen this quickly but I'm really excited for the experience and the girls have really backed me so I'm really looking forward to it.

I just started playing at the Aon series and everything's just come from there and I've just kept playing with all the teams that i can to get better and I'm really enjoying the rugby 7s experience.

Australia is leading the 2017-18 World Series, having won both the Dubai and Sydney tournaments.

The Kitakyushu Sevens kicks off on Saturday April 21, running until Sunday April 22.

FIXTURE

Australian women's Sevens, Kitakyushu Sevens 

Pool A 

Saturday April 21 (all times AEST)

Australia vs China, 12:36pm

Australia vs Ireland, 3:20pm

Australia vs Spain, 6:04pm