Maroubra over Monaco: The killer mindset driving the Australian Sevens to further heights

Wed, Nov 23, 2022, 11:05 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
All the best Aussie 7s moments from Toulouse.

It might not have been the glitz and glamour of Monaco, in fact over 16,000 km away, but a quiet celebration ceremony at Dave Phillips Field may best sum up the attitude guiding the Triple Crown-winning Australian Sevens into the future.

The defending HSBC World Series, Commonwealth Games and Rugby Sevens World Cup champions will kick-start their campaign on December 2-3 in Dubai.

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The side have been honoured for their success over the past 12 months, headlined by superstar Charlotte Caslick accepting the honour for World Rugby's Women's Sevens Player of the Year.

Whilst Caslick was accepting the award last week, fellow nominees Maddison Levi and Faith Nathan turned down the chance to attend.

Instead, they opted to focus on preparing for their World Series return, with coach Tim Walsh and a close group of friends and family leading their own ceremony at the Waratahs' training base following a weekend of 'smashing' each other.

It follows a similar path to Caslick in 2016, turning down the chance to accept her first Player of the Year award in person to prioritise backing up their Olympic gold.

In Walsh's eyes, the gesture reaffirms the class of the Sevens program, never resting on past achievements and success.

“You’ve got Maddi (Levi), Faith (Nathan) and Charlotte (Caslick), all getting nominated for the World Player of the Year, which I imagine was really hotly contested as well. The other two, Faith and Maddi decided not to go,” Walsh revealed to Rugby.com.au.

“It wasn't a decision that I made for them. The decision making I put onto them, I can give them advice but I'm not going to tell them what to do and both of them came to the conclusion that they wanted to put the team first and prepare for an Olympic qualifying season in Dubai, they thought going to Monaco would affect them. 

“One of them responded with I'm going to train that hard and play that well, I'm going to be invited back in the future anyway. 

“I just felt amazing with that. To be honest, Charlotte has led by example by that. In 2016, Charlotte came off for the Olympic gold medal, she was hands down going to win the award for World’s Best Player. She was invited to Monaco, first class, all that stuff. Unprompted, she came to me and said 'I'm not going to go Walshy, it's going to affect our performance in Dubai and off the back of an Olympic gold medal we need to perform.'

“As a coach, I'm just going, ‘wow, these are athletes’ and this team is unreal. Charlotte’s been around 10 years and she actually can come back, she has the maturity, awareness, the training age to be able to do that and the way that she represents Australia, Rugby Australia and the program, it's something that I'm very happy for her to go and do.

“She won the award, she represented the game and her and Rugby Australia amazingly, she did all the training over there and she's come back and she's ready to go. 

“For them to knock back a pretty special experience, flying over there first class into the glitz and glamour of Monaco, amazing event but they decided to stay and go down to David Phillips Field in front of 100 people, smash each other and prepare for the next tournament. It's unbelievable, isn't it? I'm so proud to be part of this team that makes those decisions.”

Despite the dominance and titles, Walsh believes there are areas of growth left in the side.

It's why decisions like allowing Bienne Terita to join the Wallaroos were so crucial, commending her growth as a player after a breakout World Cup.

“Technically, in the game, there's a lot of areas (of growth),” he believes. “I think it's a real privilege to work with this group of exceptional athletes so they’re room for growth, there's still massive amounts of it. 

“I reckon this team can certainly take areas of their game to the next level. If you look at attack, defence, the restart and restart reception as the sort of key areas, in every single one of those areas, there's room for improvement, some more than others. 

“They're a good attacking team. Defensive wins tournaments, and we're not the biggest team so as the most tenacious or crafty team, we are getting fitter and more powerful, thanks to (Head of Athletic Performance) Tom Carter. We are building those combinations together, stronger and stronger, they're very strong now but we need to build depth.

“We do a deep analysis on trends of games or how we can trend and what we can focus on, and how we can improve. So there's a lot there.

"..BB (Bienne Terita), we spoke about going playing for the Wallaroos and she didn’t make the Com Games and played little at the World Cup. She's young, she's developing what's 15 is going to do for her Sevens game and it was a very strategic decision to work with Jay (Tregonning) and ‘Thomo’ (Adrian Thompson) to make that happen.

“She struggled the first few weeks, to the point of you know 'I don't know if I want to do this’ but it's like ‘no, look at the bigger picture’ and she went out there and absolutely killed it. She represented herself, Sevens and Rugby Australia brilliantly and now she's come back in a refreshed way, a different way of looking at things and she's got a lot of footy under her belt and learnt different things. Sharni (Williams) as well, fourth World Cup, she's just an absolute machine."

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