A massive challenge this coming Tournament without the leadership of "the Queen" and Smale.

Walsh ready to challenge inexperienced Sevens squad in Singapore

Tue, Apr 30, 2024, 7:00 AM
Nathan Williamson

Australia Women's Sevens coach Tim Walsh is intrigued by how the side will react in Singapore with two of their most experienced stars staying home in Australia.

The squad heads to the penultimate event of the SVNS world series without captain Charlotte Caslick and Sharni Smale, currently tied with New Zealand on top of the ladder.

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It's the first time Australia will play a Sevens missing both stars since the Kitakyushu Sevens in 2018.

“They’ve had a big load this season, especially if you look at the red cards that we’ve had this year, Charlotte and Sharni have had to play a lot of minutes in a lot of tournaments," Walsh told Rugby.com.au

“Charlotte then had a little couple of niggles that we don’t want to keep on affecting her so getting her a bit of rehab and prehab so she won’t be limping into the Olympics. It’s a big season and they’ve got little knocks so it’s a player welfare and mitigation of risk.

“Both of them are ultimately team first, it’s all about what can I do for the team, not what the team can do for me so it was in consultation with them about what’s the best for them that’s going to be best for the team.

“They’re ultimate competitors and will do whatever is going to put the team in the best position."

26-year-old Dom du Toit is the most experienced member of the squad with 33 caps after her return from injury, with Madison Ashby captaining Australia for the first time.

“It’s definitely a challenge or a bonus contingency to do as we’ve played the whole season with Charlotte and the whole Triple Crown with Charlotte and Sharni so to challenge the group and build their confidence around out, it’s a very positive factor," Walsh added.

“We want the team to have the opportunity to play without them and really build some sort of character and experience leading into Madrid and the Olympics."

As a result of injury and suspension, Walsh will have used more players in the past four events than in the 2021-22 Triple Crown campaign.

Bienne Terita (ankle) will not be available until Madrid whilst Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea (shoulder) will return before the Olympics after a pair of subluxations.

"We don't want to have to select a player for the Olympics that hasn't had a World Series before," Walsh added.

"We want to expose the likes of Bridget (Clark) and Ruby (Nicholas) and make sure that our squad gets time as well to either put their hand up for selection or if unfortunate incidents happen, at least we've got backup there without taking away the combination and cohesion we're building."