14 September 2017: Olympic Games gold medallist Sharni Williams will make her debut for the University of Canberra this weekend in round three of the Aon Uni 7s Series in Brisbane.
Williams joins the side after being granted an extra week of rest following her role in Australia’s sixth-place finish at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland last month.
Williams, who captained the Australian Pearls to the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will add firepower and experience to the University side as it looks to make an impact in Brisbane.
The 29-year-old watched on from the sideline in Sydney last weekend as the University finished sixth for the second tournament in a row. She said she was raring to take the field.
“It was great being around the side last week and spending time with the girls, but being on the sideline gave me itchy feet and I’m ready to get out there and play my part,” Williams said.
“I was really impressed with what I saw in Sydney. The girls have gelled really well in the short period of time they’ve been together.
“I think this weekend we’ll start to see those combinations really coming off and I’m looking forward to getting some game time in and getting a few results.”
The University of Canberra will be further bolstered for the trip north by the inclusion of Williams’s Wallaroos teammate Kate Brown.
The pair replace injured duo Ema Masi and Regan Hart, who have both been ruled out of the remainder of the series after suffering serious knee injuries last weekend.
Sophie Quirk has also been added to the 12-woman squad. Quirk replaces Sophie Broadhead, who remains unavailable after breaking her ribs in training a fortnight ago.
University of Canberra head coach David Grimmond said the side would benefit from having experienced competitors like Williams and Brown on the field.
“We suffered a couple of nasty injuries in Sydney last week, but we’ve been able to fill the void with two very talented and experienced players,” Grimmond said.
“Sharni and Kate have had a well-earned rest following the World Cup and they come into the squad ready to make their mark.
“They’ll lead from the front and provide additional leadership and guidance for our younger players as we look to give the competition a real shake-up this weekend.”
The University of Canberra will play pool games against Griffith University, Bond University, and the University of New England at the University of Queensland playing fields in Brisbane this weekend.
The tournament will be streamed live on rugby.com.au.
University of Canberra squad:
Kate Brown, Sarah Carter, Abby Gustaitis, Ash Kara (C), Sammy Maxwell, Yasmin Meakes, Sophie Quirk, Darcy Read, Cassie Staples, Sharni Williams, Talei Wilson, Sammie Wood