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Australian "pathway to gold" program unearthing some amazing talent and stories


The fact that this program has developed four exciting talents so quickly could be the sign of things to come. We met with the ARU development team to talk about this in Sydney. Look out for this feature in issue 4.


Australian Rugby Union’s Pathway to Gold Talent ID program has unearthed a second national Sevens player, with Perth’s Natasha Haines set to make her international Rugby Sevens debut in Hong Kong.

Haines has been called into the Qantas Women’s Sevens as injury cover for Amy Turner ahead of the Qantas Women’s Sevens next two tournaments in Hong Kong and China.  A former Victorian Touch Football representative, Haines was also the 2008 season winner of the popular television show Gladiators. The 31-year-old attended one of Australian Rugby Union’s Pathway to Gold Talent ID camps in Perth, was one of 80 players selected nationally to advance to a second trial camp and was one of five players identified at the second camp to train with the Australian Sevens squad.

Recent debutant, Ellia Green, was the first player from the Talent ID program to be selected in the Qantas Women’s Sevens squad. Green, a former track star from Melbourne, burst onto the international scene during her maiden international tournament in Houston with a match-winning try against New Zealand in the third-place playoff.

Like Green in Houston, the Hong Kong tournament will be Haines’ first with the Australian Women’s Sevens team, a suitable reward for the hard-working West Australian who plays her Club Rugby for Cottesloe.

The tour will also feature a further two debutants, with Sydney high school students Tiana Penitani and Brooke Anderson being named in the side following injuries to Houston squad members d’Arcy Sadler and Gemma Etheridge.

While this will be their first time representing Australia at the senior level, both Anderson and Penitani have already won a Gold medal as members of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival team which defeated China 40-0 in the AYOF Rugby Sevens Gold-medal match in Sydney earlier this year.

Lane said all three debutants had worked hard and their selection was a further indication of the depth being developed in women’s Rugby Sevens in Australia. “We’ve got two girls in the squad who have come through the Talent ID program and two that have come through the Australian Youth Olympic Festival,” Lane said.

 “That’s four out of 12 players in this squad that have come through development initiatives, which goes to show that the work being put in behind the scenes is delivering results.”