'Every team wants to knock us off this week ': Manenti looking for Sevens side to back up title

Wed, 01/12/2021, 03:12 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Aussie Sevens coach John Manenti is looking for his side to back up their Dubai triumphs. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby
Aussie Sevens coach John Manenti is looking for his side to back up their Dubai triumphs. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Aussie Women's Sevens coach John Manenti is calling for his side to back up their Dubai title as they prepare for the second leg of the World Series.

Having broken a near four-year wait between titles, Australia enter the second leg in the Middle East as the team to beat after a dominant showing last week, drawn alongside Russia, Brazil, Canada and Spain.

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With fans set to return, Manenti stressed the importance of building confidence and belief whilst being the 'hunted'.

“I’ve been hammering them on consistency for weeks in training, really backing up and making them resilient which I’m seeing in training today (Monday), some girls ran really quite hard which six months they probably wouldn’t be capable of six months ago,” Manenti noted to media on Monday.

“I think they now need to understand we’ve gone from probably being on no-one’s radar to this week being the hunted.

"Every team wants to knock us off this week so it becomes a different element to handling that as well which is a great thing for the girls to handle as well.”

After a disappointing Tokyo campaign, Manenti credits a tough pre-season and a greater focus on appreciating their position as a catalyst for a near-faultless run through the tournament.

“I think attitude-wise we weren’t as happy as we were and that’s super important with a young group,” Manenti believes.

“We made sure they appreciated the fact and opportunity to play for their country and be professional athletes. We worked probably harder than some of them thought they could, Tom (Carter) has done a great job with the conditioning and a lot of them have hit new PBs across athletic performance goals.

“People want to be entertained, there were some really good tries the girls executed but that comes from repetition and lots of hard work around the training pack.

“Ultimately, any athlete performs better when they are happy and I think the girls are in a really nice place at the moment.”

It reflects the changing of the guard over the past 12 months, with the majority of the side under 22.

The injection of youth came at the perfect time according to Manenti, who conceded the pressure of defending their gold medals from Rio had weighed heavy in the past.

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Whilst the inexperience will undoubtedly bring mistakes, the former Eastwood coach believes their familiarity with each other and the system will see those kept at a minimum heading into the future.

“Youth brings that energy and excitement but also probably there was a lot of pressure which came with defending gold medalists and trying to get them just not fearing what will happen," he admits.

“Obviously we have some key experienced players who know how to get us around the park but the young girls can’t fear making mistakes. It’s going to happen and it will keep happening for the next couple of years.

“Our goal is to be consistent around that but to make the girls feel if they make mistakes, they’re not letting the team down. We understand mistakes are going to happen but I’m big on as long as our attitude and energy are good, I can live with the mistakes. If we’re not winning that energy battle, then I’ve got an issue.

“I think they’re feeling really confident with each other. So many have come through our pathways and grown up together, some of them are like families together having been at tournaments together so they’ve been in the system long enough to feel conformable and be themselves.”

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