Sevens: Ashby 'knocks door down' to force way into world series opener

Womens - Colorado
by Emma Greenwood

Aussie sevens coach John Manenti says debutant Madison Ashby forced her way into the side for the opening round of the world series in Colorado this weekend, "knocking the door down" with her performances.

Ashby has long been touted as a sevens star but has transformed from player-in-waiting to team member after training with the national team for the past year.

She will have a chance to impress this weekend as the team heads into the new eight-leg world series that will provide a perfect lead-in to Australia's Olympic-title defence in Tokyo next year.

"It's really exciting," Manenti said of the 18-year-old's impending debut.

Madison Ashby is set to make her world series debut in Colorado. Photo: Getty Images

"She's been with us for just over 12 months and training and knocking on the door for a long time and we've seen since we returned this pre-season all the hard work she's put in has really started to benefit her.

"She had a fantastic Aon series (in round one last month) and just keeps turning up and is one of those selections that knocked the door down and said: 'pick me'.

"It's always exciting to get someone to debut and a young girl who's come through our pathways is very exciting."

Ashby has been touted as a future national team member since she was just 13 and said finally being a part of the team was a dream.

"I'm so keen. I can't wait to get on the field and play with the girls," she said.

"It feels pretty great. I've been working a long time for this through pre-season and the past year going through development and getting my skills up for the potential to play in the team and luckily enough Johnny (Manenti) picked me to play in Colorado."

John Manenti has spent time with the Sevens. Photo: Karen Watson

While she's still young, Ashby has played plenty of football, representing Australia at schools and Oceania level and training with the squad for more than a year already.

"I'm glad I went through the journey, it made me learn and experience what it might be like in the world series and gave me time to work on my skills and catch up with the girls and it was really good," she said.

Australia will start their 2019-20 campaign against Spain on Sunday morning (Australian time) and while Ashby will undoubtedly be nervous, she'll be thinking of the people who have helped her reach this point.

"I think I'll be thinking of my role and my family, they've helped me out a lot on this journey, so I'm blessed," she said.

With Colorado the first of eight tournaments for the women this season, Manenti said the entire sevens squad would get a run at stages to give all players the opportunity to impress ahead of Olympic selection.

"This time, Cassie Staples is a name that's come back in after being out for a while and she's another one that's worked really hard and shown some great progress," he said of the Rio gold medalist.

"So I can't wait to see her have a crack at that stage.

"She was one of the best at Aon (round one) and another selection which forced her way into the team. We've got a few on the injured list and making their way back but they're not far away but we're really pleased with the quality of the team we've been able to pick."

Australia will meet Spain, Fiji and Canada in Pool C, kicking off their tournament against Spain at 1:53am on Sunday, October 6, with the match LIVE on World Rugby's Facebook page.

SCHEDULE

Sunday 6 October 

Australia v Spain, 1:53am 

Australia v Fiji, 5:37am 

Australia v Canada, 8:43am