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Future stars set to take centre stage in Perth

Future stars set to take centre stage in Perth

All BlacksJanuary 20, 2024

As Australia leads the 2023-24 HSBC SVNS series, its rivalry with defending champion New Zealand will dominate the remainder of the season, culminating at the Olympic Games.

Heading into the third leg of the series in Perth next weekend, Australia has won two tournaments, in Dubai and Cape Town, to sit atop the table on 40 points, while the Black Ferns share second place with France on 34 points.

New Zealand has won the series seven times, Australia three, and no other country has won the title.

Their dominance is the same in the Rugby World Cup women's sevens. Australia, the defending champion from 2022, has won the Cup twice, and so has New Zealand, with New Zealand also twice a runner-up.

Players like Black Fern Portia Woodman-Wickliffe and Australia's Charlotte Caslick, among others, have set competitive standards, and the women's game has grown extensively.

But, it is emerging players who look set to ensure the trans-Tasman rivalry continues.

World Rugby reports that New Zealand's Jorja Miller, 19, and Australia's Teagan Levi, 20, are shaping up as key players for the future of their respective sides.

Their influence was borne out when they went head-to-head in the season's first final in Dubai – Miller scoring three tries for the Black Ferns and Levi touching down twice for Australia while also landing two conversions in their 26-19 win.

While their points-scoring feats are the most apparent features of their play, those who can see beyond that recognise they each share a hunger for work around the field.

Kicking off 2024 in ‘Straya! ✈️🦘

See you soon, Perth. #AllBlacks7s | #BlackFerns7s | #PERSVNS pic.twitter.com/wSnxSRe3S6

— NZ Sevens (@nz_sevens) January 18, 2024

World Rugby said, "They are key playmakers in their teams with an understanding of the game far beyond their years. They both possess electric footwork, silky skills and a hard edge to deal with the strains of elite-level sport.

"Both seem to have endless time on the ball and are always scanning for opportunities in attack and defence."

Miller, who debuted in 2022 at Cape Town, had an immediate impact, going on to be selected as Rookie of the Year by World Rugby and named in four tournament dream teams.

Her effort in Dubai highlighted her growth at the international level.

World Rugby said, "Her work rate in the final was lung-busting. She contributed a key pass or a crucial tackle to every positive play by the Black Ferns Sevens."

Levi similarly demonstrated her importance to Australia in the Dubai final. She decided to counter ruck just before halftime, resulting in a Black Ferns' knock-on, a scrum and a try for Levi to draw level with New Zealand 12-12.

With a Commonwealth Games gold medal and a Rugby World Cup Sevens title, Levi and her old sister Maddison have been targets for 15s teams in Australia. But they have committed to Sevens until 2026.

Recognising Miller's potential, she has been signed through until 2027. She missed the Commonwealth Games in 2022 in Birmingham due to a knee injury, so she has plenty to aim for in 2024.

"Australia and New Zealand's approach to women's sevens is set to keep them at the top of the pyramid, while Levi and Miller will continue in the footsteps of the incredible women who blazed the path before them – and will make new tracks of their own."

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