Women’s sevens on trial for Sydney spots
Australia's champion women's team will stage an internal trial on Friday to help decide their squad for the Sydney Sevens after turning down an invitation to play in New Zealand.
Despite winning last season's overall World Series title, Australia's women haven't won a tournament on the premier circuit since Sydney last year so are desperate to defend their title.
New coach John Manenti opted against taking his players to this month's invitational event in Hamilton, so will instead put his players through a cutthroat trial at Moore Park.
"I think the best way to work out who wants it most is pit them against each other and see how they go," Manenti said.
The Olympic champions have been smashed by injuries in recent times but will be close to full strength for the Sydney Sevens, at Spotless Stadium from Feb. 1-3.
Charlotte Caslick remains unavailable after breaking her hand while playing in Dubai but Shannon Parry and Emma Tonegato are closer to returning to action if they can impress Manenti in trial, along with everyone else.
"If you don't perform, you don't get picked. It's that simple," Parry said.
"It doesn't matter who you are, if you're the new kid on the block, if you're 10 years older, it doesn't matter.
"That's the reality of where the squad is at this point in time, you've got 18-year-olds up for selection, you've got 28-year-olds up for selection as well."
Australia won Sydney last year without conceding a single point in the entire tournament but are bracing for a much tougher time this year after being drawn in the same pool as the United States, China and Spain.
The current six-round World Series carries extra weight this season as the top four teams will qualify automatically for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Australians are currently in fourth spot after the first two legs so are targeting Sydney to end their title drought and climb up the qualification ladder.
"Sydney's a massive tournament for us. It's fair to say it's our biggest tournament of the year," Manenti said.
"Staying at home and having that extra preparation rather than preparing for games over there (in New Zealand) was certainly something that we felt would be in our best interest.
"I don't hide behind the fact that we're not the best team in the world at the minute and we're working towards that, and it's not going to come overnight but we're certainly working hard enough to suggest that'll it happen in time."
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