Teenager Paki looking to make a big mark on Sevens

Womens - Sydney
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Cast your eyes down a list of names in the Aussie women’s Sevens gym or a team chart and you might just spot the letters “BG”.

No one in the team bears those initials, rather they denote teenager Sariah Paki, who has earned the moniker “big girl” for her desire to make an impact far beyond her size.

Paki grew up playing touch, a game much of her family still plays, before her father Tame pointed her towards rugby league and ultimately rugby because of her love of contact.

When she played touch, she told her teammates to call her “big girl” and the name and her desire to play like someone beyond her size stuck with her.

Three years ago, she picked up rugby and her rise has been meteoric on the way to becoming Australia’s youngest-ever World Series debutant when she ran on in Dubai in December.

Her love of the brutal side of contact sports has stuck with her and when Aussie Sevens coach John Manenti first sat down with her, it was the “big girl” tag that she pulled out again.

Just a few photos in Dubai 📷💚💛

A post shared by Sariah Paki (@sariahpakii) on


“She's not a big girl but she loves playing like a big girl so when I spoke to her in our first one on one before the game, I said what do you want to bring and she goes, “I just want to play like a big girl,” and we all started laughing,” she said.

“She does play like a big girl, she's not massive but she plays like a big girl so it's a good way to start. I expect her to enjoy the tournament and continue to get better too.”

Paki smiles when she talks about tackling and admits it’s that role that she hopes she can play.

“I just want to play that big girl role to go forward and bring the team hopefully knock down some players a bit,” she said.

A switch to Sevens from league means the big hits are fewer than in the 13-player game but she relishes the demanding nature of the code.

Definitely gonna miss all you girls 😭😍

A post shared by Sariah Paki (@sariahpakii) on


“The difference moving from league to sevens was pretty hard because league was just stop, tackle, go and then stop, where sevens is just go, go, go, go, go every step, you've got to follow your pass, tackle, get in the space and just I love the intensity of Sevens,” she said.

The second of six siblings and with close 30 first cousins, many of whom play touch or rugby league, Paki has an army of support behind her whenever she plays.

Her family were eagerly awaiting news of her Sydney selection and many of them will be at Spotless this weekend to cheer her on for the first time in an Aussie jersey.

“Their faces just glow up when they find out that I'm in the team,” she said.

“It's just so good that it's here in Sydney and we get to play in front of our family and all our friends as well.”

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

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