UPDATED: Australia's "barometer of mongrel" welcomed back as Rio gang re-unites for Sydney 7s

Womens - Sydney
by Iain Payten

She is the “barometer of mongrel” for the Australian women’s sevens team and, coming off a five-game suspension for rough play, will be as vital for the Aussies as returning superstar Charlotte Caslick at the Sydney Sevens.

Abrasive forward Shannon Parry was named in an near-full strength Australian team for the fifth leg of the Women’s World Series, to be held at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.

With a fit Emilee Cherry the seventh Rio veteran in Australia's 12-woman squad, Emma Tonegato described it as “having the gang” back together and after a disappointing fourth-placed finish in Hamilton, Manenti was particularly happy to have the gang’s muscle - Parry - back on deck.

The veteran was suspended after she was cited for foul play in the final of the Cape Town sevens, after shaking Kiwi Ruby Tui at a breakdown, believing she was stopping the ball coming out.

Shannon Parry is hoping to return for the Sydney 7s. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyTui suffered concussion and Parry had to sit out all five Aussie games in Hamilton.

As usual, the Aussies were targeted physically by their rivals and Manenti admitted they responded by playing too laterally, and too deep.

The Australian team has been working on challenging more at the line, and in the middle, this week and while Caslick will be crucial for the former, Parry’s physicality - along with her partner in crime Sharni Wiliams - will be highly valued for the latter.

"Obviously very definitely players - Charlotte runs our attack and ‘Shanno' is our barometer of mongrel, if you like,” Manenti said.

"She is the tough hombre up front, setting standards and getting physical and the girls love following her.

"She is a pest in and around the breakdown and scrums and everything is a competition and a scrap for her and she leads the way for us. It will be great to have her back. Spain up front, they love that contest. So it’s great to have her back this weekend.”

Manenti said he wasn’t concerned about Parry being gun-shy in contact in Sydney after her recent suspension, and he wants her to keep bringing the muscle.

"I don’t think so Shanno has been playing on the series for seven years and she has never had anything against her,” he said.

"At the end of the day it would deemed an act of foul play but essentially it was probably just frustration around somebody lying in the ruck and she was trying to get out of there.

"Nothing that will worry her or stress her. Obviously she is a competitor and I want her to play that way."

While Manenti said it was important to give youngsters their opportunities and rewards for playing well, he was happy to see his Rio golden girls starting to come back online in a major way.

While Evania Pelite is still missing with an ankle injury, the Australian team will be at its strongest since the World Cup in 2018, prior to Cherry’s depature.

Tonegato, Ellia Green, Lucas (nee Quirk), Caslick, Cherry, Williams and Parry are the surviving members of the gold medal winners from 2016.

"Having the gang back together, I guess, except for Evania, it’s lovely and I love playing with those girls and we just have those connections together after playing together for so many years,” Tonegato said.

"We just know how each other plays so well, and we kind of read each other without having to speak. But we can’t just do it by ourselves and we do have those young girls who have been playing so well.”

The Aussie women’s team have traditionally used their “skill, speed and skill” to combat the bigger and more physical opponents like USA, Canada and Sydney pool rivals France, but Manenti said the team had worked on challenging the line more this weekend after trying to run around rivals in Hamilton, and not enough through them.

"There were times, we call it chain passing, where we were just shifting the ball out to the wing and hoping Ellia or whoever was out on the wing could do damage,” he said.

"We know we have to play some football through the middle of the park to be able to do that. We didn’t earn the right to go wide and we have worked on that this week, and not just by bending the line, but by playing football in and around the line and making other people make decisions, rather than just being able to press wide on us.”

The Sydney 7s kicks off at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday February 1, running until Sunday February 2.

TEAM

Australian Women's Sevens squad for Sydney 7s

IN: Charlotte Caslick, Shannon Parry, Faith Nathan

OUT:  Emma Sykes, Rhiannon Byers, Sariah Paki (13th)

1. Shannon Parry, University of Sydney, QLD, 28 caps 

2. Sharni Williams (c), University of Canberra, ACT, 33 caps

3. Faith Nathan, University of Technology Sydney, NSW, 3 caps

4. Cassandra Staples, University of Queensland, NSW, 11 caps

5. Emma Tonegato, University of Western Australia, NSW, 29 caps

6. Demi Hayes, Griffith University, QLD, 11 caps

7. Charlotte Caslick, Bond University, QLD, 32 caps 

8. Madison Ashby, University of Technology Sydney, NSW, 4 caps

9. Dominique du Toit, University of Western Australia, QLD 14 caps

10. Alicia Lucas, University of New England, NSW, 33 caps

11. Emilee Cherry, University of Queensland, QLD, 30 caps 

12. Ellia Green, University of Melbourne, Victoria, 29 caps

13th Sariah Paki, University of Technology Sydney, NSW, 10 caps