THE Macquarie University Sydney Rays women’s squad for the AON Uni 7s Series will be all about youth and opportunity.
Head coach Nathan McMahon announced his (first group) squad on Thursday for the season, which kicks off in Tasmania on August 25-26 and he has included three members from the national team that won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in late July.
Page McGregor, Bella McKenzie and Layne Morgan are all in the 21-woman squad along with Rio Olympic gold medallist Chloe Dalton and rising national squad member Dominque Du Toit.
McGregor is just 18, McKenzie still 17 years while Morgan is not far past her 18th birthday.
McMahon said: “We’ve adopted the philosophy at the Rays that if you are good enough you are old enough and that is the case with these three girls.
“I think they are the next wave of talent that is coming through off the back the boost women’s sevens got after the gold medal in Rio.
“We can’t wait to put them out there to show what they can do.”
Wallaroo from the last women’s Rugby World Cup in France, Nita Maynard will add some experience to what is essentially a very fresh-faced group.
The rest of the women have all come through the NSW representative pathway for the past couple of years or have been selected from talent ID days hosted at Macquarie Uni but McMahon says they are all ready to step up in this important pathway competition..
“There’s a lot of class in the three sides from Queensland but we’ll head to each tournament with the attitude of getting out there, working hard and seeing where that takes our group,” McMahon added.
“There’s obviously pressure there being the only Sydney based side and an expectation to do well. The target’s on our backs but the more time we spend together the better we will get.”
An interesting selection has been the elevation of Madison Ashby to the main squad from the development group that has been training together for the past couple of months with McMahon under Tim Rowland at James Brodie’s J-Train gymnasium at Brookvale.
“Her (Ashby) selection shows that there is a pathway at the Rays for girls who are willing to put in the work and have a go on the field,” McMahon said.
Preparations for the start of the series will ramp up this weekend when McMahon and his coaching group take the squad into camp at the Sydney Academy of Sport at Narrabeen so they get across a lot of the detail needed to perform at this level.
The camp, supported by Macquarie University is a further extension of their great support of the men’s and the women’s teams. Throughout the weekend the women’s squad will have the opportunity to focus on a number of on-field sessions and also agree on a lot of off field essentials like team identity and squad values.
After the tournament in Launceston on August 25-26 the Rays will host their leg of the AON Uni 7s Series at Macquarie – a weekend that will culminate with the men’s side kicking their season off with the Sydney derby against the Western Sydney Rams on September 10.
The AON Uni 7s Series was launched at Macquarie University at the end of July with the event attracting a huge amount of media exposure for the sport.
Bella McKenzie, Bottile Vette-Welsh, Brittany Vanderhart, Caitlin Keefe, Chloe Dalton, Claudia Bell, Carcie Morrison, Dominique du Toit, Donnay Van Talk, Emily Chancellor, Freya Clayhills, Jordan Parsonage, Layne Morgan, Madison Ashby, Montana Walters, Nita Maynard, Olivia Brooks, Page McGregor, Raecene McGregor, Sarah Halvorsen, Tiarne Cavanagh.