Australia’s women’s sevens stars are hoping to burst from the shadows of their more celebrated men’s counterparts with an historic breakthrough in Atlanta this weekend.
The dominant Australians are riding a 12-match, two-title winning streak heading into round three and can pull tantalisingly close to a first-ever World Series triumph with another victory in the US.
Stand-in captain Shannon Parry, deputising for injured skipper Sharni Williams, says the Pearls crave World Series glory more than recognition, but admits some attention would be nice.
“The only way we’re going to get recognition is if we keep on winning and developing our sport,” Parry told AAP.
“But, yeah, some positive publicity would be welcome.”
And seemingly inevitable, too, given the Pearls are the hot favourites for Olympic glory this year following their unbeaten start to the World Series in Dubai and Sao Paulo.
“We feel if we can get a good result here in Atlanta and roll that on for the rest of the World Series that we’ll be in really good stead for the Olympics,” Parry said.
“It’s really important to keep that confidence up and momentum heading to Rio.”
Reigning in Atlanta, though, will be challenging, with Australia having never previously made a Cup final in North America or Canada.
Parry puts the lack of success down to the brisk conditions.
“It’s 14 degrees here. That’s really cold,” she said.
“Coming off summer too, plus it’s windy and cold, and we don’t get to play in that too often.”
Teenage gun Dominique du Toit will make her World Series debut for Australia, while Tiana Penitani, Chloe Dalton and Brooke Walker return from injury in the absence of Williams (knee), Ellia Green (shoulder), Gemma Etheridge (knee) and Brooke Anderson (leg).
Australian women’s squad for the Atlanta Sevens: Shannon Parry (capt), Brooke Walker, Dominique du Toit, Tiana Penitani, Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite, Charlotte Caslick, Chloe Dalton, Amy Turner, Alicia Quirk, Emilee Cherry, Mahalia Murphy, Georgie Friedrichs (travelling reserve).