NZ and Australia women contest regional title
Australia hosts the Oceania Women's Sevens in Noosa on 5-6 October, with new coach Tim Walsh naming a strong squad of players as the hosts look to go one better than their second-place finish last year.
“After a year of building depth in the sport, and the continued development of experienced players, we are looking strong ahead of the new season,” said Walsh.
“We have had a solid pre-season preparation and this tournament will offer a high standard of play allowing us to gauge we were at going into the IRB World Series.
“New Zealand is coming off a double win, with both World Series and World Cup under its belt, so we will need to play clinical Rugby in order to secure the title.”
New Zealand Women’s Sevens head coach Sean Horan has named a fresh-looking squad of 12 for the tournament, which is also a rare competitive outing before the finest teams in the world travel to Dubai next month for round one of the new IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
Teenagers Hayley Hutana and Michaela Blyde, both 17, have been given special dispensation to play in the Oceania Sevens tournament as Horan looks to expose more players to international competition in the run-up to the Series.
New Zealand plays in the first match of the round-robin pool stage against Papua New Guinea, with hosts Australia playing Fiji next up. Samoa are the fifth side competing. The knock-out competition will be played on the second of the two match days.
"The new faces Hayley Hutana, Crystal Mayes, Shiray Tane and Michaela Blyde were recruitments from the New Zealand Rugby Go4Gold programme, and these players were part of our pre-Houston tournament camp this year. They are definitely fantastic, young and exciting talent," said Horan.
"While we want to give some of the younger players an opportunity to play in an IRB tournament, we also want to ensure that some of our World Cup players get more game time experience.
"We are expecting Australia to be tough opposition particularly with a new coach and we know that Fiji are building a strong base too,” Horan added.
Teams will play in a round-robin format on Saturday before progressing to Sunday’s semi-finals and final to determine the winner.
"The 2013 Oceania Women's Sevens championship is a significant tournament for exposing FORU teams to international competition, particularly in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," said FORU Tournament Director Andrea Healy.
"The tournament will feature the powerhouse teams in the region so the scene is set for some intriguing women's Sevens rugby."
NZ: Hazel Tubic, Honey Hireme, Halie Hurring, Alexis Tapsell, Sarah Goss (captain), Kristina Sue, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Hayley Hutana, Crystal Mayes, Selica Winiata, Michaela Blyde, Shiray Tane
Australia: Emilee Cherry, Maddi Elliott, Kristy Giteau, Ellia Green, Cobie-Jane Morgan, Shannon Parry, Alicia Quirk, Saofaiga Saemo, Shani Sleeman, Hannah Sio, Amy Turner, Sharni Williams
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