The University of Canberra has unveiled its squad for the forthcoming Aon Uni 7s series.
Head coach David Grimmond has selected a 22-woman squad to contest the inaugural competition, which kicks off later in August 2017.
Australian sevens stars Sharni Williams and Cassie Staples headline the side and they will be joined by USA women’s Eagles representative Abbie Gustaivis.
Gustaivis is currently contesting the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland with the Eagles and will join the University’s squad when her national commitments conclude.
Similarly, Williams will be available for selection at the conclusion of the Wallaroos’ World Cup campaign.
Staples will be available for selection for all four tournaments. She made her Australian debut earlier in 2017 having landed on the radar of national coaches after being viewed performing impressive athletic drills on YouTube.
The remainder of the squad is largely made up of players from the local and Southern NSW region, 13 of whom are studying at the University of Canberra.
Grimmond said he was spoilt for choice when selecting a squad that consists of rugby sevens specialists, experienced 15-a-side practitioners, and players new to the game who boast impressive records in other sports.
“The Aon Uni 7s Series is an exciting initiative. It’s a huge step forward for not just rugby sevens in Canberra and the surrounding region, but for the sport altogether,” Grimmond said.
“We had a lot of interest from the very beginning. Obviously, there was interest from women who were already playing rugby, but we’ve also got a lot of newcomers to the sport who we’ve selected.
“We’ve got players from a variety of sporting backgrounds who want to play sevens. Australian touch footballers, rugby league representatives, and girls who have achieved great things in athletics – we’ve got them all and I’m very pleased with the squad at my disposal.”
The University of Canberra face Macquarie University in a trial match in Bowral on Sunday 13 August 2017.
Grimmond said he will use the occasion to put his squad through its paces and test combinations ahead of the first tournament in Launceston at the end of August 2017.
“I’m pleased with the progress the squad has made over the past six weeks,” Grimmond said.
“We’ll use the game against Macquarie University to see where we’re at against a quality opposition. The girls are excited to get on the pitch and I’m looking forward to seeing our hard work pay off.”
University of Canberra Aon Uni 7s squad
Kiahan Bellchambers, Shelley Bradshaw, Sophie Broadhead, Sarah Carter, Zoe Curran, Abbie Gustaivis (USA Eagles), Regan Hart, Ash Kara, Michaela Leonard, Josie Maejirs, Sammy Maxwell, Yasmine Meakes, Claudia Obst, Steph Pollard, Darcy Read, Cassie Staples (Australian Pearls), Janina Strauts, Cailah Welch, Sharni Williams (Australian Pearls), Talei Wilson, Eilish Winbank, Sammi Wood