OLYMPIC gold-medal winning coach Tim Walsh has praised the performances of Cameron Park debutante Hannah Southwell as the Australian women’s team claimed the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship in Fiji on Saturday.
Only three months after representing the Young Matildas football squad the 17-year-old former Jets W-League goalkeeper was part of the title win, which Australia sealed with a 31-0 final victory over the hosts.
Walsh said he was pleased with the success given the number of different individuals, including Southwell, compared to the Games success experienced in Rio in August.
"We had different experience levels in the squad with the players who were in Rio and the players doing their rugby apprenticeships," he said.
"Our debutantes were outstanding. Emma Sykes, Hannah Southwell and Shanice Parker played exceptionally well and improved on every game."
Co-Captains Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams led from the front.
In the third-place play-off in the men's event Australia finished the tournament strongly, defeating Papua New Guinea 25-5 after falling 19-7 to tournament hosts Fiji in the semi-final.
Meanwhile, Southwell has been named in the NSW women’s squad for this weekend’s national sevens in Adelaide alongside fellow Hunter products Kate Gilbert and Sarah Halvorsen.
Merewether Carlton’s Sam Fogarty has been picked in the state men’s group.
Both sides are aiming for back-to-back crowns.