Australia coach Tim Walsh has elected to give some of the younger members of his squad a chance to shine at the inaugural HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens next weekend.
Six of the squad have only 19 tournaments between them – the same number that both Charlotte Caslick and Alicia Quirk have individually – with the likes of Demi Hayes, Dominique du Toit (pictured) and Brooke Walker named in a 13-strong squad.
Among the names to sit out the trip to Japan for round four of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series are co-captain Sharni Williams and Emma Tonegato.
The defending series and Olympic champions have twice suffered defeats in finals this season – at the hands of New Zealand in Dubai and Las Vegas – and sit second in the standings, six points behind the Black Ferns Sevens.
“We’re just over halfway and we are looking forward to finishing the season strongly but also blooding some younger players and getting their experience up,” said Walsh.
“We’ve made a few tactical changes to really bring up some other players in key positions and I’m looking forward to seeing those younger players putting up their hand.
“We are in a position now where we are really pushing for the title again. The pressure is now on New Zealand and all it takes is one slip up and we’re in.
“We’re just focusing on our job and I think the results will take care of themselves.
“The Women’s Six Nations players coming back into sevens will strengthen those European teams which will change the dynamic of the competition.”
Australia will face Fiji, Ireland and Brazil in Pool B.
Australia squad: Shannon Parry (captain), Mahalia Murphy, Chloe Dalton, Demi Hayes, Georgina Friedrichs, Evania Pelite, Alicia Quirk, Charlotte Caslick, Emma Sykes, Brooke Walker, Emilee Cherry, Dominique du Toit, Ellia Green.
Ireland change four for Japan
Ireland have opted to make four changes to their squad for the fourth round of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series in Kitakyushu on 22-23 April.
Kim Flood, Louise Galvin, Katie Heffernan and Emma Murphy have been called up by head coach Anthony Eddy as Ireland look to build on back-to-back quarter-final appearances. Heffernan, aged 19, is in line to make her series debut, having first played for Ireland at the Rugby Europe Grand Prix in Malemort last year.
Ireland finished eighth in Sydney and Las Vegas and are currently ninth in the overall standings on 16 points.
Ireland will face Fijiana in their opening match of Pool B, before meeting Australia and Brazil. All three teams will be familiar to one another, having all been drawn into the same pool at the HSBC Sydney Sevens, where Ireland defeated both Fijiana and Brazil.
The Japanese round of the series will see Ireland and Fijiana meet for the fourth successive tournament in 2016-17. The sides drew in Dubai, Ireland claimed the win in Sydney and Fijiana emerged victorious in Las Vegas.
"We have an experienced side travelling to Japan next week for the fourth stage of the world sevens series,” said Eddy. “We have managed to make the quarter-finals in the last two tournaments, so that will be a target for us again in Japan. Hopefully we can have a productive day two and achieve some really good results.
“The players have worked extremely hard and have shown good improvement all year, so I am sure they are looking forward to the Japan tournament to build on their performances.
“It will be a challenge, however, as we face the ever-improving Brazil, Fiji, who we are very familiar with having met them regularly throughout the series and Australia, who are the reigning series holders as well as Olympic gold medallists – but it's a challenge the players are excited about and looking forward to.”
Ireland squad: Ashleigh Baxter, Claire Keohane, Kim Flood, Stacey Flood, Louise Galvin, Katie Heffernan, Lucy Mulhall (captain), Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe, Sene Naoupu, Audrey O'Flynn, Hannah Tyrrell, Megan Williams, Emma Murphy.