Bathurst sevens star Jakiya Whitfeld to make World Sevens Series debut

BIG MOMENT: Bathurst sevens star Jakiya Whitfeld, pictured scoring a try for Sydney University, has been called into Australia's side for round three of the World Series. Photo: KAREN WATSON
BIG MOMENT: Bathurst sevens star Jakiya Whitfeld, pictured scoring a try for Sydney University, has been called into Australia's side for round three of the World Series. Photo: KAREN WATSON

BATHURST rugby sevens star Jakiya Whitfeld will today take a monumental step in her career when she lines up for her World Series debut.

While Whitfeld has previously represented Australia - she wore green and gold at an opens level for the first time just 12 months ago at the Oceania Sevens - the World Series is a tier above that.

The third round of the tournament, to be played in Cape Town, will see Whitfeld form part of the 12-player Australian squad which will play England today then Ireland and the USA on Saturday.

Australian coach John Manenti was full of praise for the Bathurst talent.

He said her selection comes on the back of her form for Sydney University in the AON Uni 7s competition.

Whitfeld, who has been dubbed 'Winx' for her powerful, explosive running style, was one of Sydney University's biggest attacking weapons this season.

She notched up a glut of tries, including crossing the stripe 10 times in the third round of the 2019 series when her side went undefeated and claimed its maiden gold medal.

"We are really excited about Jakiya in her debut World Series tournament," Manenti told rugby.com.au.

"Jakiya has earned her place in this side and has been one out of our outstanding players that has come through our pathway and the Aon University Sevens Series."

Whitfeld is one of three players who have been added to the Australian side following the World Series round in Dubai.

Cape Town is one of the new venues on an expanded women's World Sevens Series tour in 2019-20, a tour which could see Whitfeld push her claims for a place in Australia's Olympic squad for Tokyo.

In any case, the the star 18-year-old will get her chance to impress against some of the world's best in South Africa and increase her profile.

This season the women's competition has increased from six to eight rounds for the first time in the history of the series, with six of those, including the current Cape Town event, being combined with the men's fixtures.

Last year the series attracted 198 million video views.

"Cape Town will throw up some different challenges this week, it's the first time we have had to go back weeks on the World Series, and we are really looking forward to the challenge," Manenti said.

Australia currently sits third on the table after rounds in Glendale and Dubai, four points behind New Zealand and the USA.