Griffith University has retained just over half its premiership squad as it prepares for a defence of its AON Uni 7s title this season.
Griffith has announced a 24-player squad which includes former Australian sevens player Georgie Friedrichs, Wallaroos Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, Alana Elisaia and Shannon Mato, as well as Queensland Women's XV captain Kiri Lingman.
But coach Moana Virtue knows there is no place for complacency and has bolstered her team with fresh talent including high school students Lucy Single and Tiana Raftstrand-Smith.
“To have just over half of the squad as returning players this year is great for our experience, although I’ve been really impressed with the new talent especially with how young they are,” Virtue told the Griffith Uni website.
“The series win meant a lot to us in 2018 but it’s a new year and teams are working just as hard.
“Our attention is now on coming together as a squad and putting the work in so we’re ready to go, come the first tournament.”
Griffith won three tournaments in the five-round series last year, snaring the title after taking out the final round of the series in Adelaide.
The series has been cut to four rounds this year but Griffith has already fine-tuned preparations by competing in several development tournaments which helped finalise selection of the squad.
Laura Waldie, who was named in the series Dream Team selected by Australian sevens staff last year, said the season was already off to a positive start.
“We had such a fantastic year in 2018 and this year we have been off to a really positive start as well … being involved in a number of development tournaments which gave girls a chance to put their hand up for selection," Waldie said.
“I’m excited to see what our new players bring to the squad as well as the impact of our returning squad members.”
Each team in the tournament has been allocated members of the Australian sevens side, who will compete in rounds one and four.
Samantha Treherne, Lily Dick, and Demi Hayes will represent Griffith, while Lefau-Fakaosilea could be in the national selectors' sights ahead of next year's Tokyo Olympics after an outstanding tournament last year, followed up by stellar efforts in Super W and with the Wallaroos.
Griffth University AON Uni 7s squad: Ellen Field, Kiri Lingman, Samantha Lingman, Eloise O’Brien, Georgie Friedrichs, Marama Thomas, Ngaupoko Masters, Laura Waldie, Katie Curtis, Kahli Kenwood, Eloise Schlecht, Ivania Wong, Cecilia Smith, Georgia Devlin, Marlugu Dixon, Shannon Mato, Charlotte Kennington, Alana Elisaia, Courtney Hodder, Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, Yolanda Gittins.
2019 Aon University Sevens Series
Round 1 - September 14-15, University of Queensland
Round 2 - September 28-29, Bond University
Round 3 - October 12-13, University of Adelaide
Round 4 - October 26-27, University of Canberra