ASSISTANT coach and former Wallaroo Kate Gilbert knew Aussie sevens duo Faith Nathan and Madison Ashby add pace and skill to the Newcastle University sevens side.
But it is their ability to make players around them better than Gilbert is banking on when Newcastle compete in the first round of the AON national sevens finals at Forshaw Park this weekend.
Newcastle, one of three teams from NSW alongside Sydney Uni and UTS, will take on the University of Queensland, Bond University and Griffith University.
Nathan and Ashby have again been drafted into the Newcastle side, and while they are without Ash Walker (family commitments). Madison McArthur (concussion) and Kayla Waldron (NSW CHS), Gilberts is excited at what they could produce.
"Faith and Maddie are obviously very fit, fast and skillful," said Gilbert, who is deputising for coach Ross Duncan this weekend. "The most pleasing part was that the other girls were able to step up. The girls just needed a player in the middle to direct and take them forward a bit more. Maddie takes it to the line and puts the defence in two minds. She creates so many holes."
Sharni Waters, Jorja Holden and Miki Trbojevich, the cousin of rugby league super stars Jake and Tom, come into the squad.
"Sharni has plenty of pace," Gilbert said. "We have moved Tahlia Goldsmith and Susannah Cooke from the halves into the forwards.
"I'm expecting big things from Kaitlan Leaney. She is a great player and I wouldn't be surprised if she is in the Wallaroos soon.
"She has been working on her speed and fitness and has done really well in the sevens season. We try to get it wide and she sits one of the wing in that centre position.
"We try to work in little pods. Kaitlan usually plays really well with Ash Walker. They pop up off each other's hip. Hopefully we will get Trudi Peterson in that position."
Gilbert has watched footage of the Queensland sides from their regional rounds.
"We have got an idea how they play," she said. "It will be interesting to see how the impact their Aussie girls have. We will go out their with all guns blazing."
Newcastle University: Zara Lee, Jess Gentle, Jorja Holden, Faith Nathan, Sharni Waters, Miki Trbojevic, Kaitlan Leaney, Emily Freeman, Madison Ashby, Trudi Peterson, Courtney Currie, Susannah Cooke, Jessie Southwell, Tahlia Goldsmith
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