‘The ultimate athlete’: Former sprint champ set to debut at Dubai SVNS
Looking to take out Cup final glory in the opening round of the new-look SVNS Series, the Australian women’s sevens team are set to unleash a former high school sprint star in Dubai this weekend.
Kaitlin Shave will wear the No. 8 jersey at The Sevens Stadium on Saturday and Sunday after being named to debut as part of a star-studded Australia squad.
Shave was the standout during the AON Next Gen Sevens earlier this year, with the Queenslander crossing for 19 tries in just 12 appearances – clearly, the 22-year-old was destined for more.
With co-captain Demi Hayes and veteran Sharni Williams missing out on last season’s leg in Vancouver with injuries, it seemed that Shave would debut on the Series.
But the speedster was made to wait a bit longer.
With the new-look SVNS Series upon the rugby world, Aussie Madison Ashby – who was named as one of our seven players to watch this season – hyped up Shave’s limitless potential in sevens.
“Australia produces some of the best wingers and she has unreal speed,” Ashby told Nine’s Wide World of Sports earlier this month. “I feel like this season she will get a good shot and mark her name on the World Series.
“Australia produces very good wingers, like Maddi Levi and Faith Nathan, and I think under their learning she will get into the ultimate athlete and learn a lot off them.”
The rest of the squad for the Dubai SVNS is full of international superstars. Led by Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Caslick, the Aussies are coming for it all in 2023/24.
Record-breaking try-scorer Maddison Levi will look to continue her rapid rise after a historic season last time around, and she’ll be joined by sister Teagan Levi in the playing group.
Rising stars Faith Nathan and Bienne Terita are another two players to watch as Australia looks to claim their first series title since Dubai last year.
“The program has spent the best part of preseason training and playing around the world. The objective being to play more rugby, increase player and team rugby IQ, resilience, positional depth and team combination,” coach Tim Walsh said in a statement.
“Tom Carter has challenged and physically extended the team to an elite level, whilst consistently having 85% of the squad at full training capacity. We also have the full squad available for selection and welcome Kaitlin Shave who will make her long-awaited debut with the Australian team.
“We are very fortunate to have experienced players in Charlotte Caslick and Sharni Smale leading the team during such an intense Olympic season – both have navigated the challenges of such seasons, and they know what to expect. Sevens continues to go from strength to strength and, in an Olympic year, the launch of the invigorated new format will only enhance the entertainment spectacle and world-class product the HSBC World Sevens Series delivers.”