The Aussie Amazons are taking a stellar line-up to compete in the Hong Kong 7s this weekend with a host of national players in the squad.
The named squad features IRB Women's Personality of the Year Debby Hodgkinson, national team captain Cheryl Soon and a number of other capped players.
The side will be coached by Jason Stanton who led Australia to the Sevens World Cup last year.
The team are playing as an invitational club side as opposed to a national team and they will face a range of Asian national teams such as China and Hong Kong as well as other leading invitational sides in the competition. The full squad is below.
We asked the Aussie Amazons team manager Tessa Pentony a few questions about the side.
Why is an invitational side competing and not the Australia 7s team?
With the World Cup on this year for the Wallaroos, the ARU is focusing on a comprehensive 15s program for the Women. There were a number of players who are very keen to continue playing Sevens, so a group came together to make this happen. The team is lucky to have some wonderful support from sponsors.
How was the squad selected?
Jason Stanton, who coached the women to victory at the Sevens World Cup in Dubai, has thankfully stayed involved with the team. Jason works with South Africa mens Sevens team, but has spent time at Sevens Tournaments and watching match DVDs. He consulted a number of coaches involved with various Womens teams, to ensure he had the best mix of fit players in the country.
Is this important as a competition in terms of developing the 7s calendar for Australian players?
The Hong Kong competition is very important to the players from Australia. If the group is to maintain their ability to be the best in the world in Sevens, they need to get involved with competitions like this. Many of the players have played in domestic championships across Australia, and this is a great opportunity before the players start concentrating on the 15s game and the World Cup.
Who do you see as the main threats in Hong Kong
Every time Australia plays New Zealand, it is competitive. The NZ Team has an amazing record in Hong Kong, and I am sure will want to take the Cup out of Australias hands. In addition, China is a big threat, and we appreciate the team and Sevens program in China has grown since we last played them in the final last year.
Do you know much about the teams you will face in your pool
Jason Stanton was in Las Vegas and saw China win the final. We know a lot of teams from the 2009 Hong Kong competition, but there has been a lot of development in Womens Sevens across the board. It will be interesting to see how the teams have improved this year.
There are a number of Wallaroos in the squad was this deliberate selection to help them prepare for the World Cup this year?
There are a number of Wallaroos who play Sevens and the team was selected on the best mix of players available in the country. However, while it wasnt necessarily deliberate, we do believe the Sevens competition will help players develop and also give them match-fitness. Cobie Morgan and Kristy Giteau debuted for the Wallaroos last year and Shannon Parry and Shonny Stowers are some real talent for the future.
Has the game grown in popularity since Australia won the 7s World Cup?
Womens Sevens has grown, which is brilliant. We are lucky enough to have some great role models in the game, and their success in Dubai has helped lift the profile of the sport. Regional Sevens competitions are seeing more female teams enter and this is a trend which will continue to grow as we get closer to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with Rugby Sevens on the Olympic roster.
Aussie Amazons squad to compete in the Hong Kong 7s on March 26:
Alex Hargreaves (Sevens World Cup Player and Wallaroo), Debby Hodgkinson (Sevens World Cup Player and Wallaroo), Shannon Parry (Wallaroo Training Squad), Rebecca Trethowan (Wallaroo), Trisha Brown (Sevens World Cup Player and Wallaroo, Kristy Giteau (Wallaroo), Cobie Morgan (Wallaroo) Cheryl Soon (Sevens World Cup Player and Wallaroo), Rebecca Tavo (Sevens World Cup Player), Shontelle Stowers.