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Sevens side praise tough pre-season as they end title drought

Mon, 29/11/2021, 4:52 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

Sevens superstars Demi Hayes and Charlotte Caslick have credited their tough pre-season after Tokyo as the women's side claimed the opening round of the 2021-22 World Series.

The comprehensive Final win over Fiji secured the Dubai title, their fourth at the venue, whilst maintaining their record of never missing the semi-finals at the opening event of the season.

Catch all the World Series action this weekend on World Rugby's digital channels. Click here to access.

It also ends a near four-year wait between titles, last hoisting the trophy on home soil in 2018.

During that 14 event stretch, they found themselves on the podium on eight occasions in a remarkable show of consistency, but never on the top spot.

However, after the disappointments of Tokyo, a refined focus on building comradery and an inspired defensive showing across the tournament was evident as the Australians conceded just 39 points in their five matches whilst managing to score 163.

“Going into this pre-season we really focused on getting a good crack at this tournament and we went and did that so I’m really stoked for the girls,” captain Demi Hayes said after the victory.

“We’re lucky that we have a great group of girls from 1 to nearly 20 back at home...we’ve worked really hard to be tighter on and off the field. If we keep going, it’ll be amazing.

“It was awesome. We’ve been working so hard since Tokyo. As a group, we were really disappointed with our results so we’ve taken a lot away from that and it’s really starting to show,” Charlotte Caslick added.

“It’s really clicking out there on the field and we love playing in Dubai, we always play well here and hopefully it’s a good omen for the rest of the season."

The event was momentous for multiple reasons for the women's side as they issued in a new era.

Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, Tia Hinds and sisters Maddison and Teagan Levi were handed their first World Series caps, with Hayes' prediction before the event proving correct as they blitzed their opposition.

“They’ve been awesome,” she told Rugby.com.au before the event. “We’ve been such a close-knit team and every single person from the youngest to the oldest have had such an impact whether they’re playing big or little minutes.

“I’m really excited to see how they go. Teagan Levi is the youngest, Tia Hands - girls who have that opportunity at the domestic level and at the Olympics.

“They’ve been pushing it at training and deserve the position in the squad to be here so I’m excited to see how they perform with the girls.”

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Along with this, it was two of the program's stalwarts who brought up major milestones as they help guide the next generation of players through the World Series.

Former co-captain Sharni Williams brought up her 50th try in her Sevens career against Brazil, finishing the event as the leading point-scorer with 34.

In the same game, Caslick scored her 100th try, going on to be named Player of the Final and Impact Player of the Tournament by a considerable margin.

“It’s awesome. Obviously, I’ve been playing for a while now so it took me a longer time than Ellia Green but it’s nice that I got there,” she said with a smile about the achievement.

“It’s great when you play with such a good team that likes moving the ball around…I just find myself at the end of a couple of good tries.”

Their attention turns to the second and final event in Dubai, drawn alongside Russia, Brazil, Canada and Spain, as they look to back up their efforts.

"We’re definitely looking forward to next weekend but we won’t be putting ourselves on a pedestal, we’ll keep our expectations low and just focus on performing each and every game to try to get that win," Hayes believes.

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