Alysia Lefau-Fakeosilea could be Australia’s not-so-secret weapon for the Tokyo Olympics in rugby sevens if form and fitness mesh over the next fortnight.
“Alf” is ready for lift-off at the final stage of the Aon University Sevens on the Gold Coast this weekend after finally beating a frustrating high-ankle sprain.
Lefau-Fakeosilea has been around the Australian sevens squad for nearly two years without playing an international tournament.
Coaching her up to the requirements of elite sevens, injuries, getting her citizenship in order and the restrictions of last year’s health crisis have kept her on the launchpad.
The pony-tailed dynamo with the big fend, swerve and natural rugby instincts is still only 20 so a little waiting can only sharpen her hunger for the exciting possibilities ahead.
The Queensland product certainly feels that way with the green light to play Day One’s three pool matches for Griffith University on Saturday at Bond University.
“I’m just very excited to play. It’s really been a year since I played sevens and they were only internal squad games,” Lefau-Fakeosilea said.
A strong Saturday in the AON University Sevens and “Alf” is a good chance of selection in the Australian squad for the six-game tune-up series against New Zealand in Auckland on May 21-23.
She is Auckland-born which makes the prospect of playing in the New Zealand city all the more alluring.
“Playing against the Black Ferns would really be something. All the time I’ve spent with the sevens girls and the senior players has made me more prepared,” she said.
“Just learning more about sevens, practising those 15m passes, my fitness, working on my tackle tech...there have been lots of improvements to make.”
Her sevens pals marked exactly when Lefau-Fakeosilea became an “Aussie” when her Australian citizenship papers and passport were all ticked.
“They made me sing the Australian anthem in front of everyone in the team room at training,” she said with a smile.
Lefau-Fakeosilea has been on everyone’s radar since early 2018 when she produced two eye-popping moments at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens at Suncorp Stadium.
A rattling front-on tackle in the final was as memorable as any put on by the men that weekend and she scored the winning try for Queensland against NSW in that decider.
All that and she was still a Year 12 schoolgirl who’d been given a leave pass from classes at Canterbury College, south of Brisbane, just to play on the tournament’s opening day.
When still 18, she made her Wallaroos debut in the centres against Japan in 2019.
Rio Olympics gold medallist Chloe Dalton will also make her long-awaited return for Sydney University on Saturday after the long road from back surgery.
“It’s great news for Chloe. Three matches in the Aon series will be the ideal way to get the feeling of playing again and prepare her for NZ,” Australian women’s sevens coach John Manenti said.
“We’ve got some great value out of the Aon University Sevens series in terms of prep for the Olympics. Vani Pelite was really strong in the recent series at Forshaw Park.
“We have a full calendar of great opportunities next year too with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and a Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town so it’s good to see younger girls like Madi Levi and Jesse Southwell making their marks in this Aon series.”
2021 Aon University Sevens (Final Round 2)
Saturday-Sunday at Bond University, Gold Coast
University of Technology, Sydney
University of Newcastle
University of Queensland
Saturday: 9:40am-2:40pm (9 games)
Sunday: 9:40am-3pm (7 games)