World champions ready for Malaysian test

(IRB.COM) Thursday 30 August 2012
 World champions ready for Malaysian test
Rebecca Tavo will lead Australia's challenge in Malaysia

Australia coach Chris Lane has selected a blend of youth and experience for the Asia-Pacific Women's Sevens Championship, which starts in Kota Kinabalu on Friday and runs alongside the HSBC Asian Sevens Series opener, the Borneo Sevens.

The Australians are eager to go one better than their last outing when they finished runners-up to New Zealand at the Oceania Women's Sevens Championship in Fiji earlier this month.

With preparations continuing for the defence of their Rugby World Cup Sevens title in Moscow next June, Lane's focus remains development.

“We’re continually looking to improve as we move closer to the World Cup,” Lane said. “This side has come a long way together and have worked hard off the pitch, it’s just a matter of continuing to improve on it.

“It’s also important that we continue to develop the younger women coming through the ranks and get some tournament experience into them.”

The experience in the squad comes from captain Rebecca Tavo, regulars Cobie-Jane Morgan, Shontelle Stowers and Sharni Williams, while relative newcomers Emilee Cherry and Alicia Quirk have caught the eye.

Five players made their debut at the Oceania Women’s Sevens just a few weeks ago in Gemma Etheridge, Brianna Nathan, Katrina Barker, d’Arcy Sadler and Dalena Dennison and have another chance to shine in Malaysia.

Australia and Papua New Guinea, the only non-Asian sides in the competition. Australia have been drawn in Pool B with matches on Friday against Chinese Taipei, Japan and Singapore. They then tackle Kazakhstan in their final pool match on day two.

Papua New Guinea head Pool A and will face China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Korea. The top two sides in each pool will progress to the semi finals on Sunday.