Rugby 7s ‘enigma’ Caslick on top of world


Murray Wenzel / AAP News

A dominant force in rugby sevens for the past six years, Charlotte Caslick’s coach believes a strong Commonwealth Games campaign will strengthen claims she’s the country’s premier female athlete.

Caslick was a star of Australia’s run to Olympic gold at the Rio Games and officially named the world’s best female rugby sevens player in 2016.

Fast forward to 2022 and, while the rest of the world has made great strides, the former touch football star is still the reigning World Series player of the year and Australia are champions again.

Long-time coach Tim Walsh said she deserved to be held in the same regard as modern Australian female sporting leaders Ash Barty, Erin Phillips, Sam Kerr and Ellyse Perry.

“Absolutely. Charlotte is a phenomenal athlete and phenomenal person and what she has done for the game of rugby compares to what the greats of the game have done winning World Cups or whatever,” he told AAP.

“The way that she can continue to perform an d stay levelled is remarkable.

“For a young woman to be put into her position as a quite influential figure – let’s say she’s pretty famous around the place – and still maintain her professionalism … it’s incredible the way she can do that.”

Australia’s Rio gold came with some skepticism given it was essentially a two-horse race in the fledgling women’s format.

Rivals have made up the ground since, with France, Fiji, the United States and Great Britain combining with the Kiwis to knock Caslick’s team from the Olympic podium in Tokyo last year.

Australia have responded to the challenge, Caslick leading a new-look side to 31 wins in 34 World Series games since then.

“They’ll continually find ways to win and Charlotte, with the longevity she’s shown, nothing surprises me,” Walsh said.

“She’s rebranded, changed perceptions and continually performed at an absolute elite level.

“You look at her stats, her data, the moments, the pressure; she’s a n enigma in the women’s game of sevens.”

Caslic k will be 29 at the 2024 Paris Games, barely a stretch when you consider current teammate Sharni Williams is 34.

“Never underestimate her,” Walsh said when asked how long Caslick has left.

“We’ve got Sharni here at 34 hitting PBs.

“The way that sports science (has improved) and the way that they understand their bodies and what they need to do to perform, we really don’t know (the limits).

“I think Charlotte could do just about anything she wants to. She’s that mentally tough.”

Competition begins on Friday at Coventry Stadium and Walsh said a gold medal game against New Zealand on Sunday would be fitting “for a rivalry of epic proportions”.

But he’s wary of pool dangers and Tokyo bronze medallists Fiji, while South African and Scotland also loom as obstacles.



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