The Australian womens sevens team have received a massive boost ahead of their World Cup campaign next week with superstar Charlotte Caslick declaring she will turn down approaches from rugby league and stay in rugby until the next Olympics.
Caslick has been the subject of media reports in recent weeks after the Brisbane Broncos tabled an offer to the Rio gold medallist to play in the Womens NRL competition later this year.
There was speculation Caslick’s management had explored the option of playing both codes at the same time.
But after a farewell function for the Aussie mens and womens squads ahead of the World Cup in San Francisco next week, Caslick told RUGBY.com.au she was close to finalising a new contract with Rugby Australia to play sevens through to the 2020 Olympics.
“I am definitely committed to Australian rugby and I am looking forward to going to Tokyo,” Caslick said.
“I have so many goals here that I am still yet to tick off. It’s great to see that there are other sports out there and the competitive market is growing and growing.
“It’s really exciting for us but at the same time there are still things that want to finish here before I venture somewhere else.”
Caslick said the option playing sevens and also in the Womens’ NRL competition, which runs for six weeks in September and October, was not feasible. It’s highly unlikely RA would be keen to let it happen, either.
“Just with our season starting earlier this year with the Colorado leg in October, it doesn’t give us much time to play around with that,” Caslick said.
“But there are options everywhere now. We have overseas options as well that are popping up. It’s an exciting time to be playing rugby, that’s for sure.”
Caslick said the contract negotiations had been a minor distraction ahead of the World Cup but she was confident she wouldn’t let them detract from her performance in San Francisco.
“The timing of it hasn’t been great I guess,” she said.
“The (NRLW) offers only came out in the last month or so, so it’s been quite hard while you’re preparing for a World Cup.
“But it’s been okay. My agent and my Dad have been helping a lot with that side of things so I have been able to just focus on footy. Post-World Cup we can nut out the finer details.”
Aussie womens coach John Manenti said he wasn’t worried about Caslick’s contract saga affecting his star player.
“She is a mature athlete and we are in a professional sport,” Manenti said.
“It happens every day of the week where people are negotiating contracts of different formats. She is an athlete who needs to, and will, put those things aside and concentrate on the peformance. At some stage that will be sorted out with the hierarchy here. She knows very much her job is to go and win the World Cup. That’s all she is really focussing at the moment.”
Australia won the inaugural Womens Sevens World Cup in 2009 and came fifth in 2013. The introduction of sevens into the Olympics saw a calendar re-adjustment.
Caslick said Australia head into the 2018 World Cup with confidence after winning the World Series title this season but the inability to beat New Zealand in recent tournaments means they’ll still have their work cut out to bring home another gold medal.
“Hopefully we won’t leak as many points. That’s the start of our issues, I guess,” Caslick said.
“We have to stop leaking so many points to let ourselves be in the game to begin with. That was pretty important in Rio, and in Sydney again this year, when everyone is working on the same page everything just clicks into gear.
“It’s great to have Quirky back out there with me. She kind of relieves a bit of that middle of field playmaking responsibility, and tackling and so on.
“She helps me to my job. And obviously having Ellia and Sharni back, they’re massive strike weapons back.”
Manenti said the big expectations on Australia as Olympic champions won’t be a problem.
“There is always pressure around that,” he said.
“This group always put pressure on themselves to perform anyway. The expectation within the group is high. I don’t feel like we are too concerned with what happens.
“Performing under pressure is something we pride ourselves on.”