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Reigning Olympic sevens champions desperate for matches ahead of Tokyo

Australia’s reigning Olympic champion women’s sevens team has had a disjointed preparation for a five-day Tokyo Games hit-and-run mission but they could get a block of games against the Kiwis in June.

Having not played any competitive matches since March last year due to COVID-19, a number of the team’s best players, including Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Evania Pelite and Charlotte Caslick, will take part in this year’s Aon Uni Sevens series, starting this weekend.

Australia and New Zealand could work together in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.

Australia and New Zealand could work together in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.Credit:AP

But the end goal is another gold medal in Tokyo, and coach John Manenti concedes the outcome isn’t completely in Australia’s court.

Northern hemisphere sides have managed to get games recently, butthe Games begin in four months and Australia and New Zealand can’t afford two weeks of quarantine on return if they were to try and play a tournament abroad.

Games are being organised here between Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in June, but nothing has been locked in.

If a trans-Tasman bubble isn’t established in coming weeks, New Zealand have indicated they may remain in Australia for an extended period and travel straight to Tokyo in July.

It means Australia could get a good hit-out against the 2016 silver medallists and the form team in the world.

“They [could] stay here for a month’s preparation,” Manenti said on Wednesday. “For us and them, it’s critical for us to have some sort of competition when we feel the rest of the world is getting ahead of that stuff.

“We’re replicating games, we’re having internal games, we’re playing games, but it’s very hard to play games without genuine meaning.

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