'One more job': Sevens women light up Ballymore as men prepare for Top End

Fri, Jun 21, 2024, 10:45 PM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey

Australia's Olympic hopefuls are sharpening the axe across Brisbane and Darwin this week as excitement builds ahead of Paris 2024.

Fresh from their Madrid SVNS crown, the Aussie women are back in action with trial fixtures against Fiji and Japan at Brisbane's Ballymore Stadium.

Watch every game of Australia's Olympics Sevens live and exclusive on Stan Sport.

Australia came from behind in Friday's opening hit-out against Fiji with Sariah Paki and Kaitlin Shave prominent in a 29-15 win before Maddi Levi's hat-trick dominated proceedings in a 36-5 victory over Japan.

Capped members of Tim Walsh's squad also featured in an Australia A outfit with rookie Ruby Nicholls putting in a strong case for Olympic selection.

Australia captain Charlotte Caslick joked her squad were still getting "flogged" in training but noted the importance of winning games and building momentum into Paris.

"I think the girls would tell you we always get flogged … but when you play sevens, I feel you don't really get a chance to have many easy sessions," Caslick told media on Friday.

"We always play a tournament this far out from our major campaigns. It's part of our process the coaches have had from the beginning and it's important to get good results.

"We've got one more job to do and we've got to keep building towards that. From the beginning, Tom (Carter) and Tim (Walsh) have had a plan of when we're peaking and exposing other girls to more minutes."

Now, Caslick is hoping she and fellow two-time Olympian Sharni Smale can help her squad ascend to seven's highest peak once more.

"Every campaign's completely different. I would love this group to experience what I got to experience what I did in Rio," she said.

"Obviously Sharni will probably be finishing up with Sevens and I would love her to go out on a high, she really deserves that.

"Unfortunately Australians don't get to watch us play that much so this is our time to show everyone what we're capable of and it's important that we do it on the biggest stage.

"We can’t take everyone but it’s a squad effort and we always make a big emphasis on the fact that it’s team first.

“What this group in particular has been really good at is putting the team before themselves and we will be going out there to play for not just the 12 on the plane to Paris but the whole squad … we’ll be playing for all of them.”

Australia's women tackle Fiji and Japan again on Saturday with games from 1pm and 4pm at Ballymore.

The Aussies celebrate a tough win over South Africa. Photo: World Rugby

Meanwhile the Australian men continue their Paris preparations with a hot camp in Darwin scheduled off the back of this week's warm-up tournament in Fiji.

Coach John Manenti tested his depth and combinations in Lautoka with the likes of Mark Nawaqanitawase and Max Burey featuring in a four-game friendly series.

Michael Hooper continues to press his claim for a fairytale Olympic berth while former SVNS Rookie of the Year Corey Toole has been made available for Paris.

Now, the men turn their attention to their Top End camp with Manenti's squad also scheduled to run school holiday clinics with Northern Territory's rugby juniors.

Australia's Olympic Sevens squads will be announced early next month.

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