The Aon Uni7s series won’t be quite as star-studded in its 2018 iteration but Rugby AU's head of high performance Ben Whitaker says that might just benefit the competition.
In last year’s inaugural series, Aussie Sevens stars like Emilee Cherry and Charlotte Caslick dominated the competition and each university was allocated two national players.
They didn’t all play every tournament but plenty of their highest-profile players featured throughout the series.
This year’s World Series is kicking off in October in Colorado, just three months after the World Cup in San Francicso, and it seems unlikely that Australia’s stars will feature much in the Uni7s series ahead of that.
The domination of Cherry and co elevated the excitement factor of the first series but Whitaker said their absence would open the door for the next generation to stand up.
A need for greater talent development was one of the key factors in the competition's inception and this would open the door for that to occur.
“I think there's a couple of things there - one is the scheduling didn't really work out with latest finish we'll ever have with the World Cup and the earliest start we'd ever had with the October World Series event,” Whitaker said at Wednesday's season launch.
“I think the national girls are really important around experience and professionalism and they can teach the players a lot on and off the field.
“On the flipside, with them playing last year and probably we had four or five play right through the series they probably dominated the play so much.
“Emilee Cherry had a wow of a series, Charlotte Caslick, Vani Pelite was outstanding for Adelaide and they probably dominated and that was great to see but they probably also took away the opportunity for some other girls to step into those positions and really learn, develop and show what they can do as elite players on the field.
“I think that's what you'll see this year. You'll see some new batch of stars coming through because they'll have the opportunity to really lead.”
University of Canberra player Abby Gustaitis is a USA international and will be available for just the first three legs of the series before linking up with the American side.
Gustaitis said she was confident the playing standard would still be high despite the limited availability of internationals.
“I think just the girls who will be returning from last year, all of their play was elevated from last year's comp and just seems like the level of play in general has gone up a level,” she said.
“Training with the Canberra girls, it seems like they're on the forefront and just really taking the experience from last year and growing and not necessarily starting from the bottom again.
“Hopefully, (it’s) just going full steam ahead."
The 2018 Aon Uni7s series kicks off on Saturday August 25 at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, LIVE and FREE on RUGBY.com.au.