Eight Australian women's rugby players have the chance to complete a rare World Cup double when the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off in England next month.
Wallaroos coach John Manenti has included the majority of Australias World Cup-winning Womens Sevens team in his 26-player WRWC squad and the group also features five players who are returning for their third tilt at Rugbys biggest prize, alongside four newcomers.
Reigning world champions Cheryl Soon, Debby Hodgkinson, Alex Hargreaves, Tobie McGann, Tui Orbsby, Nicole Beck, Tricia Brown and Ruan Sims each bring with them the experience and achievement of toppling New Zealand in the final of the inaugural Sevens tournament in Dubai last March.
The five players returning for their third World Cup are Ruan Sims, Cheryl Soon, Tui Ormsby, Debby Hodgkinson and Alex Hargreaves. Kristy Giteau features in her first WRWC squad and potentially has the chance to complete a remarkable family double, alongside younger brother star Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau, by competing at Rugby World Cups in consecutive years
Australia could become the first nation to unite the Sevens and 15-a-side Rugby World Cup titles but have been handed a challenging assignment at the sixth-edition of the tournament which will run from August 20 to September 5.
The Wallaroos are in the toughest pool with defending champions New Zealand, fellow southern hemisphere side South Africa and Wales.
ACT backrower Hargreaves firmly believes Australias Sevens success will transfer into the traditional format of the game.
Oh my gosh, I still remember the feeling of winning the Sevens World Cup and it was the best ever. If we were able to pull off the double by winning the Rugby World Cup, it would be unbelievable, Hargreaves said.
I definitely think our success in Sevens will shine through into 15s. Weve learned how to pull a team together and more importantly, even though it was the shortened version of the game, weve learned how to beat New Zealand.
The camaraderie within the 15s squad this year is unbelievable, to share the experience of winning the World Cup among this group I think would be even better than winning the Sevens crown.
With increasing depth across a number of positions in the side, coach Manenti has given the nod to NSW Country centre Megan Shanahan, Australian Services No.8-turned-prop Caroline Vakalahi and Queensland pair Cheyenne Campbell and Shannon Parry for the opportunity to earn their first caps.
The rookies have all been in the system for a couple of years and playing with the higher level players has really accelerated their development, Manenti said.
At the last World Cup in 06 we had 10 standout players and the rest were working really hard to catch up.This time around we have 30 who could have made the squad and everyone in the squad is capable of starting.
Manenti will name the Wallaroos captain when the team assembles on 9 August.
The 2010 Womens Rugby World Cup is the sixth edition of the event and the third in which Australia has competed. After finishing fifth 1998 and again in 2002, the Wallaroos filled seventh position at the most recent event in Canada in 2006, where New Zealand beat England in the decider and France finished third.
For the full squad and profiles see here
*Scrumqueens will bring you an interview with Kristy Giteau later this week