Rugby Union: Warringah head high-quality field in Lake Macquarie Sevens

TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: Lake Macquarie's defence wraps up Merewether breakaway Josh Stewart. The Roos will compete against international teams and the best Sydney has to offer in their sevens tournament on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil

TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: Lake Macquarie's defence wraps up Merewether breakaway Josh Stewart. The Roos will compete against international teams and the best Sydney has to offer in their sevens tournament on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil

WARRINGAH will defend their Lake Macquarie International Sevens crown at Walters Park on Saturday against what organisers have rated the strongest field in the history of the event.

The Rats, 2017 Sydney Shute Shield premiers, beat Fijian side Eagle Warriors 19-5 in the Lake Macquarie final last year.

They will again start favourites, but will have to contend with South East Asian champions Malaysia, fellow national team the Philipines, Fijian side Island Breeze, NSW Development outfit Iconz and fellow Shute Shield clubs  Eastwood, Randwick and West Harbour.

“The standard of the competition has risen every year,” Lake Macquarie president Matthew Bartley. “Warringah are back after winning it last year and in 2015. Island Breeze are an exciting team and their are a host of other contenders.”

Lake Macquarie, led by new captain coach Gareth Palamo and backline stars Brendan Holliday, Winston Wilson and Caileb Gerrard will be joined by local clubs Wanderers and Waratahs.

Waringah will also be out to defend the women’s title but will face stiff competition from Randwick, who the 2017 Dubai Sevens.

The first game kicks off at 8am with the Premier Mens final scheduled for 5pm.