The speed queens of the Australian Womens Sevens team, Emma Tonegato and Ellia Green, have become the final two Rio veterans to re-commit to the side through to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Tonegato and Green have both inked new two-year deals and will be aiming to be part of the Aussie side who try to defend their Olympic gold at the next Games.
For coach John Manenti, keeping the pacy pair in his squad is a massive boost and represents the final piece of the puzzle as far as retention plans go.
Tonegato and Green electing to stay comes after Charlotte Caslick, Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Vani Pelite, Alicia Quirk and Emily Cherry also re-signed in recent months.
“There are eight of us left from Rio and we have all re-signed now, so that sends that strong message that we are all here and we do want to go back-to-back,” Tonegato said.
“The Olympic gold medal is such an amazing achievement and we all want to do that again.
“We are all such close friends, so to go through this by one another’s sides in this long period of time is a really special thing.”
Green, a former sprinter who was first recruited in 2012 at a talent identification day in Melbourne, said she continued to feel humbled when asked to sign a contract to play for Australia.
“I am super excited to be signing for another two years in the Australian sevens squad. I have been in the squad for a long time but every single year that I play in this team is a blessing and I am always grateful,” Green said.
Tonegato came to sevens from a rugby league background and for the first time since switching, she had the option of playing league professionally also on the table.
The former Jillaroo admitted she was approached by an NRLW team but she knocked it back.
“This contract (renewal) all came at a time when it was looking really exciting for the NRLW, and everyone was talking about and they market the girls so well,” Tonegato said.
“So it was exciting and I have a lot of friends who play league, so they were like “come and play, come and play”.
“But when I sat down and looked at the facts and figures, it wasn’t for me.
“I got an offer and basically just said no straight away. We are so professional here in rugby and its a full time job.
It’s a whole year round situation, it’s not just that four weeks of NRL, and we get to go to the Olympics. In comparison rugby is just way higher up. I am sure NRL will get there one day but at the moment it’s all rugby for me.”
The Aussie womens sevens squad won the 2017-18 World Series but finished the season with New Zealand having established a level of dominance over them, and having won both the Commonwealth Games and the Sevens World Cup.
That Kiwi surge has a silver lining for Australia as they build towards another Olympic countdown, says Tonegato.
They’re the hunters again.
“We won the World Series but we didn’t win the World Cup, so we know that we’re not where we need to be,” Tonegato said.
‘I don’t think we are in that defending a title mindset. We are the hunters again, and we are definitely looking to get better and better and to cement ourselves at the top.
“We know that New Zealand are up here and there are other countries like France and the USA who are continually getting better and better. We know we need to get better as well if we want to do that back-to-back gold.“
Manenti said: “Ellia and Emma are incredibly exciting players and further shapes our squad for the next two years.
“We have seen what amazing players they are with ball in hand, but defensively they are fearless in the contact zone with both players willing to put their bodies on the line for their team mates.
“Their work ethic and commitment to the team knows no bounds and we are really excited to have both players in the gold jersey until 2020.”