Australia’s Olympic gold medal winning co-captains Shannon Parry (pictured) and Sharni Williams will turn their attentions back to 15s next month as they look to earn selection for a third Women’s Rugby World Cup later this year.
Parry and Williams were both key figures for Australia in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups before leading their country’s sevens team to HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series glory and the first Olympic rugby sevens gold medal at Rio 2016.
The experienced pair will travel to Langford for the HSBC Canada Sevens on 27-28 May before linking up with the Wallaroos for the International Women’s Rugby Series in New Zealand, which will see them play world champions England, the Black Ferns and Canada from 9-17 June.
They are two of only five players to have more than 10 caps to their name with Ashleigh Hewson, Cobie-Jane Morgan and Rebecca Clough the others adding an experienced core to a squad featuring 10 uncapped players and seven who made their debuts in last October’s series with New Zealand.
“We’ve got a great squad here, we’ve got some of our next generation coming through, but we’ve got seven girls returning from last year’s tour to New Zealand,” said Parry.
“We’ve got some older girls, some more experienced girls there, so there’s a good mix of youth and that generational change with the experienced heads as well.”
Australia will face England in Wellington on 9 June, followed by trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in Christchurch four days later with their final match of the series against Canada in Rotorua on 17 June as they ensure the most match preparation they will have had ahead of any World Cup campaign.
The Wallaroos will use the series in New Zealand as an intense preparation camp for WRWC 2017, which take places from 9-26 August in Ireland. They will then have one final camp in Sydney before heading to a tournament that will see them face hosts Ireland, France and Japan in Pool C.
“We have been monitoring players in training and in matches since we returned from New Zealand last year, and the players named in this squad is a testament to their hard work and performances over the last 12 months,” said Wallaroos head coach Paul Verrell.
“It has been very encouraging to see the next generation coming through. They have really lifted their work-rate both on and off the field, which has led to their selection in this squad. Combined with the experience of Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Ash Hewson, Cheyenne Campbell and Rebecca Clough, we feel we have a very strong squad for this tour.
“We’ll continue the hard work for our three tough test matches this June, as we continue to build depth for our Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign.”
Australia squad: Cheyenne Campbell, Liz Patu, Violeta Tupuola*, Evelyn Horomia*, Caroline Fairs (nee Vakalahi), Hilisha Samoa*, Hana Ngaha, Rebecca Clough, Alisha Hewett, Millie Boyle*, Alexandra Sulusi, Shannon Parry, Chloe Butler, Grace Hamilton, Vesinia Schaaf -Taufa, Victoria Latu*, Natasha Haines, Cobie-Jane Morgan, Katrina Barker, Samantha Treherne*, Fenella Hake*, Sarah Riordan, Sharni Williams, Kayla Sauvao*, Nareta Marsters, Huia Swanell*, Ashleigh Timoko*, Ashleigh Hewson.
* denotes uncapped player