Rugby sevens: Hunter women excited at challenge of playing Fiji

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BIG-GAME PLAYER: University’s Mel Howard will be key to Hunter’s chances at the Central Coast International Sevens this weekend. Picture: Marina NeilHUNTER do not boast the size and experience of the big-name women’s teams but coach Will Skully is confident they have the speed to stretch the best at the Central Coast Sevens this weekend.
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Hunter, boosted by the inclusion of n representative Hannah Southwell, have been draw in Pool D alongside Stars 7s (US development side), Fiji and Sydney University.

Hunter ready to tackle Fiji TweetFacebook Sevens heavenMel Howard, Hannah Southwell and FRances Afeaki playing for New England University in the National Universities series. “Sevens is a funny game,” Skully said. “You just need to string some good minutes on the field and anything can happen.Last year we led twice in a game. We are certainly looking forward to havinga crack at Fiji, but realistically Sydney Uni is probably the game we have the biggest chance of wining. If the Stars girls are a bit jet-lagged for their first game on Saturday, anything can happen.We will be relying on speed. We don’t have a big forward pack but we have a bit of x-factor with Mel Howard and Frances Afeaki.”

Southwell, Howard and Afeaki played for the University of New England in the recently completed n UniSeries.

“Hanna has experience in the Aussie program and along with Mel and Frances did well for New England,” Skully said.

SEVENS HEAVEN: Hannah Southwell (centre) alongside fellow Hunter products Brydie Parker and Layne Morgan before playing for at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Picture: Marina Neil

The women’s squad has been training alongside the Hawthorne Club boys’ program and includes emerging talent.

“We have a couple of under-18s who have made the step up, twins Nicole and Leilani Nathan,” Skully said. “They are a little bit nervous but I am 100 per cent in what they can do.”

Hunter made the semi-finals at the Bowral and Mudgeetournaments.

Hunter: Annika Jamieson, Mel Howard, Nicole Nathan, Leilani Nathan, Hannah Southwell, Teagan Miller, Frances Afeaki, Maddison Ingram, Viana Bainivalu, Ashlee Crebert, Ashlee Williams, Laura Rapley.