Injured Caslick making her mark on the sidelines

Womens - Sydney
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Charlotte Caslick is still three months away from a World Series return but the Sevens star is putting her knowledge to good use on the sidelines.

Caslick is one of a handful of Australia’s Women’s Sevens stars recovering from injury ahead of the Sydney 7s with a hand injury keeping her off the paddock.

The halfback was shouting instructions to players during the team’s internal trials on Friday and coach John Manenti said she had channeled a lot of energy into using her knowledge of the game to help the younger players of the team.

“We're really challenging her to be involved and it's a different role obviously when you're not on the field, you can't do it with ball in hand,” he said.

“So, we've got her running little sessions with the girls, little coaching sessions in the classroom going through video, moving cups around and saying, "if the defence presents this, how do you react".

“It's important for her because she gets very restless and very bored without full-time footy so it's as important for her as it is for the girls learning off her.

“Again, trying to squeeze the sponge for every ounce we can get out of her while she's not able to join us on the field.”

Sharni Williams is excited by the injection of youth in the side. Photo: CambridgeCaslick’s absence, along with that of Shannon Parry, Emma Tonegato, Emilee Cherry, Demi Hayes, Ellia Green and Alicia Quirk at various times in recent months, has opened the door for the next generation to step up.

Those youngsters were throwing themselves at the challenge on Friday with teens like Jakiya Whitfield pushing their more credentialled opponents.

Whitfield, who starred in the Uni 7s tournament for Sydney Uni last year, is one of the faces of a new generation of girls who have grown up playing rugby.

It’s a trend that co-captain Sharni Williams said would make the coming years even more impressive than the golden era that led to their 2016 Rio gold medal.

“It's so exciting to think that I was 20 when I started playing and sevens wasn't really heard of, we didn't start playing until 2012,” she said.

“So, for these girls to be able to step into an international program straight away, only is bright for the future.

“The more rugby you play, the better you get.

“You thought that 2016 was a good team then watch out these next coming years because being exposed to it early is a lot better.”

Shannon Parry sat out the trials on Friday afternoon, leaving her bid to return for the Sydney 7s under a cloud.

Manenti is set to pick his Sydney team mid-next week before the Sydney 7s kicks off on Friday February 1 and though he said some players had earned a right to feel "safe", there wer certainly still positions up for grabs.

"There are a few people that have earned the right to be safe, I think that's fair to say but certainly the back three or four , we've still got options there and hence that's one of the reasons we're playing the game today," he said.

"Also, some combinations, not having Charlotte who's been pivotal around the ball-playing role, finding out who the best alternatives are for that and having a look at a few different people in those positions.

"So, we wanted to make it competitive, we wanted to make it a trial that meant something. It's a hit-out and it's important to have that but we want to have a little bit of meaning in there so everyone knows they've got to aim up. I

"t won't be the exclusive selection process but certainly will add to the mix."

The 2019 Sydney 7s kicks off at Spotless Stadium on Friday February 1, running until Sunday February 3. Buy tickets here.