Hayes excited to lead fresh Sevens side on Dubai return

Thu, 25/11/2021, 07:40 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Australia faced off against New Zealand at day three of the Oceania Sevens at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Recently appointed captain Demi Hayes is excited about the opportunity presented to the next generation of Sevens stars in Dubai.

Hayes leads a relatively inexperienced Australian side for the first round of the World Series, with eight players under the age of 22, four making their Series debut.

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This includes sisters Maddison and Teagan Levi along with Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea and Tia Hands.

With Australia drawn against the likes of Olympic silver medalist France and the USA, Hayes was eager to see their development and how they embrace the International stage.

“It’s definitely a younger team at the moment... it’s exciting to see that development in Australian Rugby,” Hayes told Rugby.com.au.

“It’s exciting to see those girls step up in the international environment and in the position to play on the world stage because I know how hard girls work at that bottom level just to get into the position we’re in.

“I’m really excited to see how they go. Teagan Levi is the youngest, Tia Hands - girls who have had that opportunity at the domestic level (to shine) and then the Olympics. They’ve been pushing it at training and deserve the position in the squad to be here so I’m excited to see how they perform with the girls.”

The side comes into the event after a disappointing fifth-placed finish at the Olympics, unable to replicate their gold medal efforts in Rio.

After a lengthy review, Hayes believes a greater focus on culture and comradery will pay dividends when they open their tournament against the USA on Friday (3:48 pm AEDT).

“As a group and Individually, we took plenty out of (Tokyo). We came back and really analysed how we were on and off the field,” she said.

“I think moving forward with a new group coming to Dubai, we’ve really reflected on that and how we want to change as a team. Our culture and comradery is so much tighter as a team.

“...We all know there’s a lot of trust and confidence in each other so when we go on the field, it’s replicated and we have definitely seen that at training so hopefully we can do that in Dubai.”

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Kicking off the tournament, the women's side will be the first Sevens team to wear the new jerseys, with gold and First Nations designs adopted for the Series.

Hayes confirmed they will look to wear both designs across the tournament, embracing the opportunity they dreamed of.

“It’s really exciting, we’ve had a few conversations about it and as young girls, every single one in this group has looked at the Wallaby jersey and said ‘I want to wear the gold’ but never really had the opportunity to…It’s such a privilege for us girls to wear it,” she added.

“It’s such a privilege to represent the First Nations people here in Dubai, especially Rhiannon Byers being a First Nations woman from Moree.

“It’s exciting we get to represent her and her people and I think we can wear it in a couple of games in Dubai here which is really exciting.”

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