Australia’s women’s Sevens are in an unfamiliar spot as the 2017-18 World Series approaches - they’ll be the underdogs.
The 2016 Olympic champions finished second in the 2016-17 World Series, behind New Zealand, leaving them with ground to make up ahead of the 2018 Sydney Sevens and Commonwealth Games.
Sydney was one of the sites of their most disappointment in the last World Series, with the Aussies finishing fourth in their home tournament.
Injured star Emma Tonegato missed that weekend and much of the season with a shoulder injury, and said the side was hungry to snatch back top spot from New Zealand.
“We weren’t really happy with that finish,” she said.
“But finishing second is an underdog (finish) and we can take that tag in.
“We weren’t happy with how we went and we’re definitely looking to become number one.”
Tonegato wasn’t the only Aussie forced to watch on in Sydney last year, with former men’s skipper Ed Jenkins also missing through injury.
The 31-year-old had an off-season shoulder reconstruction and is slowly returning to full fitness, hoping to be ready to go by the upcoming Central Coast Sevens.
Australia’s men have found some success in recent weeks, claiming the Oktoberfest 7s, their first international silverware since 2012.
Jenkins said that winning feeling will be critical for the young side, which is still finding its feet.
“The belief is a huge thing,” he said.
“Being in amongst that winning feeling is quite important so to get that early on in the preseason is a great effort by the boys.”
The 2017 Sydney Sevens will run from January 26-28, with men’s and women’s tournaments run concurrently over the three days.
Fans being encouraged to ‘Go Extraordinary’ for the 2018 event, which ARU CEO Bill Pulver said would be another highlight of the Australian rugby year.
“After two incredible tournaments in 2016 and 2017, the HSBC Sydney 7s is now one of the must-see events on the international Rugby calendar,” he said.
“With a completely integrated tournament for both the men’s and women’s series, Sydney is a world leader on the Sevens circuit and the Australian sports-loving public will be the beneficiary being able to watch the best men’s and women’s players from around the world in one place.”