Aussie 7s women brace for physical test

Murray Wenzel
Charlotte Caslick is among several returning stars in a boost for Australia at the Sydney Sevens

Australia's gold medal rugby sevens defence will rest on their belief that bigger isn't better.

That theory will be put to its most relevant test at Bankwest Stadium from Saturday, when the strongest Australian women's team in almost two years is rolled out for the Sydney Sevens.

Charlotte Caslick is back from injury, Emilee Cherry will make her second appearance since becoming a mother and Shannon Parry returns from suspension.

That injection of pace, composure and defensive punch will benefit a side sitting second on the world series standings despite still being perceived as physically vulnerable.

Canada and France both won that battle in New Zealand last weekend as the Rio Olympic champions were shunted to fourth thanks to back-to-back losses.

Coach John Manenti admitted both sides had taken advantage of their size difference in "isolated incidents" but that it wouldn't be something teams could target in Tokyo later this year.

"We're sort of limited by what we've got in terms of players coming from touch backgrounds and aren't big girls," he said.

"I think our speed, skill and smarts is where we're trying to go to use our point of difference.

"I'm very comfortable that we've got our own identity and play that way.

"You've got to be really good at what you're doing when you're not as big, but hopefully our speed of thought, speed of foot and skill will put us in good stead."

Australia will play Spain and Ireland on Saturday before Sunday's clash with France.

Only the top side from each pool will progress to the semi-finals later on Sunday.