ANALYSIS: Apprentices no more as new wave of Sevens stars power Australia to new heights

Sun, Dec 3, 2023, 11:36 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Teagan Levi took another step towards Sevens super stardom. Photo: Getty Images
Teagan Levi took another step towards Sevens super stardom. Photo: Getty Images

In January, Australia Women’s coach Tim Walsh talked about how then-teenagers Teagan Levi and Bienne Terita had ‘graduated’ from their Sevens apprenticeship

Less than 12 months on,  the duo have delivered Australia another Dubai title and loom as key pieces towards their push towards a Paris gold.

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The importance of the Final win in Dubai cannot be understated after the dominance of New Zealand in 2023.

They had not lost a game in 12 months, last falling to the Aussies at the 2022 event, and found ways to scrap into the decider despite being below their best and without World Player of the Year Tyla Nathan-Wong.

This was a team still stacked with talent as Rookie of the Year Jorja Miller continued her rapid rise with a hat-trick.

But it was the two younger stars of the Australian program that proved the difference and claimed first blood in an Olympic season.

The 20-year-old Levi’s growth has not been as rapid as sister Maddison but her influence on the Aussies is growing game-by-game.

She turned the game on defence with her physicality with a perfect hit at the ruck to force the mistake before tries on either side of the break gave the Aussies a conformable lead.

“I can’t thank my team enough,” Levi said as she claimed the Player of the Final award.

“We’ve had an awesome pre-season and I think we have a dream start to the tournament so I’m really excited to see what the next tournaments hold for ourselves.

“We pride ourselves on that sisterhood and we’ve all shown that playing out there. I wouldn’t had got (player of the final) without the weapons outside of me.”

When the Levis re-signed last month, they talked about their intentions of becoming the faces of Women's Rugby. With sister Maddison breaking her tournament try-scoring record from last year, the sisters are one step closer.

Fellow flyer Terita is another with a bright future across both formats after emerging as the Wallaroos' breakout star in 2022.

Terita has been forced to bide her time but a red card to Alysia Lefau-Fakaoisilea in their manic semi-final win gave her the chance to start.

Her pace and power to beat Tenika Willison calmed the nerves after three straight trans-Tasman finals defeats to the Kiwis along with setting up Levi’s second with a great burst just after the break.

“It was disappointing losing ‘Lys’ (Lefau-Fakaoisilea) for the Final because she’s so important to our team but it shows the depth we’ve been creating and ‘BB’ (Bienne Terita) stepped up and had a blinder,” captain Charlotte Caslick said after the match.

“I’m so proud of her and the way Faith (Nathan) for moving out of position. It was awesome.”

As with any class, new players are going through the same 'apprenticeship', with Isabella Nasser gaining confidence for her eventual promotion when Sharni Smale (née Williams) likely retires in 2024 and Kaitlan Shave impressing in her limited bursts

It sets up the Australians perfectly in a crucial season, culminating in the Paris Olympics in July.

They will head to Cape Town (December 9-10) looking to make it two from two before a return home for the inaugural Perth event over the Australia Day weekend.

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