Ashby, Paki, Lefau-Fakaosilea re-sign with Australian Sevens

Tue, Nov 15, 2022, 2:26 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Australian Women's Sevens have stolen a thrilling final in Langford to take the World Series crown.

Madison Ashby, Sariah Paki and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea have re-signed with the Sevens program until the end of 2024.

All three players played an integral role in last year's Triple Crown campaign, which saw Tim Walsh's side claim the HSBC World Series, Commonwealth Games and Rugby Sevens World Cup.

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Ashby made her World Series debut as a teenager in Glendale, experiencing a breakout 2022 that included selection in the Dream Team for the 21-22 Series.

In March, the 21-year-old was elevated to vice-captain as part of an extended leadership team, excited to build for the future.

“After winning the Triple Crown last year, the team is so excited by the prospect of the 2024 Olympics in Paris,” said Ashby in a statement.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing my work with the team – it’s such an amazing group of girls and we feel that there’s a great rapport between us and the coaching staff.

“I feel so lucky and blessed to compete as a full-time Sevens player – it’s the pinnacle of women’s sport – it’s mentally and physically exhausting, but you compete against some of the best athletes in the world, which is incredibly rewarding.”

Meanwhile, Paki has become a consistent member of the Sevens squad since her debut in Dubai in 2018, Australia's youngest-ever World Series debutant at the time.

The 20-year-old has played in 16 events since, including featuring at the 2020 Olympics, with the goal of Paris on the horizon.

“We’re working towards the qualifiers in 2023, and we can’t wait to make our start in the new World Series season,” Paki believes.

“There is so much new talent coming into the program – it really makes you want to keep developing and improving.

“Being contracted as a full-time athlete gives me the opportunity to be the best version of myself that I can be – mentally, physically and financially.”

Rounding out the re-signings is the powerful Lefau-Fakaosilea, thriving since switching to Sevens from the 15-a-side game.

The former Red made her Wallaroos debut as an 18-year-old, debuting on the World Series in Dubai as she was nominated for Rookie of the Year, taken out by team-mate Maddison Levi.

“In other codes, I’d only be seen as a forward, but I’m a more versatile player in the Sevens program,” the 22-year-old explained on the decision to re-sign. “That aspect affords me the chance to develop a wider skillset, which is more enjoyable as a player.

“Even though the fitness program is intense, the results speak for themselves.”

The announcement comes after the Levi sisters re-signed until the end of 2024, with coach Tim Walsh excited to lock down the core of the Triple Crown squad heading into December's World Series opener in Dubai.

“I recall it was five years ago that I noticed the natural talent of these three players,” Walsh added. “The trio have since completed their apprenticeships and developed into core squad members, who each offer unique and valuable world-class Sevens skills.

“Securing their commitment ensures a successful, sustainable and enjoyable environment for the future of the program

“Madison holds an important leadership position within the team and has been instrumental in the execution of our campaigns. She has balanced leadership with on-field silky skills and an ever-improving physical presence.

“Sariah is the heart and soul of positivity and energy – often seen soaring through the air securing restarts or dominating rucks. She is authentic and ruthless, operating on a ‘team-first’ mindset –always there to protect her sisters on the field.

“Feared by opposing teams in attack and defence, Alysia possesses a cornucopia of world class skills. She’s competitive, witty, and an outstanding addition to the team, delivering elite standards with a smile!”

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