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Five Queenslanders have been named in the Australian Youth Olympic Girls Sevens team that will compete at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, in Nanjing, China.
Marioulla Belessis, Shenae Ciesiolka, Dominique Du Toit, Laura Waldie and Amber Pilley have all been named in the 12-strong squad, while Georgina Rackermann and Emma Masi have also been named as shadow players.
Queensland Rugby General Manager- Game Development, Rob Donaghue, said it was great to see the investment Queensland Rugby has made into women’s and girl’s sevens paying off.
“Queensland Rugby has made significant investment over the last 18 months to develop and nurture young female sevens talent,” Donaghue said.
“We’ve introduced Youth Girls Sevens Development Squads around the state, and have also introduced the Queensland Women’s Sevens Academy in partnership with the Queensland Academy Sport which is based at Ballymore.
“It’s great to see the girls who have been working hard within these programs selected to represent their country, this is an important step forward as we prepare for the introduction of Rugby Sevens to the Olympic roster in Rio 2016.”
All five players selected are current members of the Queensland Women’s Sevens Academy and have come through the Queensland Youth Girls Sevens teams and Youth Girls Development Squads.
“It’s a well-balance squad,” Youth Olympic Sevens coach Scott Bowen said.
“We’re strong and physical up front and have outstanding talent in the back line. Add a couple of players who already have experience playing international Rugby Sevens like Tiana Penitani and Brooke Anderson and it makes for an exciting side.”
The significance of the Youth Olympic Games is not lost on the Australian Rugby Union, which recognises the path to Rio 2016 is well underway.
When Rugby Sevens makes its debut in Rio, chances are some of these Youth Olympians will be back on the park.
“This is a massive opportunity for a number of girls to make their mark on Rugby Sevens at international level – at the moment, a lot of them are extremely raw – but that can bring excitement too,” Bowen said.
“The Youth Olympic Games is a chance for them to stake a claim to be included in our national Women’s Sevens squad. When we are thinking about which players we will contract for next year, we will look back at how some the girls performed at the Games. How they behave, how they interact in a tournament environment.”
The 2013 AYOF catapulted Anderson, Penitani and Queenslander Charlotte Caslick onto the World Series stage, and with two years to the Rio Games, this is an almighty opportunity for another crop of teenagers.
“Ultimately, we want the girls to be challenged and tested, which we hope will add depth to the Rugby Sevens talent pool we already have in Australia as head towards Rio, the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” Bowen said.
The Rugby Sevens tournament in Nanjing begins on 17th August and Australia will be represented in the women’s event only. At the Youth Olympic Games, nations can only enter one male and one female team across all team events. In addition to the women’s Sevens team Australia has qualified a male Hockey 5s side.
Brighton Le Sands, NSW
South Brisbane, QLD
Highgate Hill, QLD
16 (17 at Games)
DU TOIT Dominique
17 (18 at Games)
17 (18 at Games)
Hackham West, SA
Cardiff South, NSW
North Adelaide, SA
Kensington Park, SA
Camp Hill, QLD
27 MAY 2019