The start of the season might still be a couple of months away yet but some of Central North's best female talent is preparing to lace up the boots this weekend.
The newly-formed Central North women's development 7s squad will have their first hit-out in the Mick "Whale" Curry Memorial Rugby Sevens hosted by the Hamilton Rugby Club.
It's the first of three tournaments over the next three weekends they will play in.
A bit of a first for the zone, program coach Dale Beattie explained the genesis behind it was Martha Harvey, Brooke McKinnon and Liliana Reardon's selection in the Rugby Australia Emerging 7's squad last year.
"Part of their requirements is that they have to play a number of regional tournaments," he said.
Rather than "just send them off to play with other teams" he put a proposal together for establishing a zone development team.
"We identified two tournaments in Newcastle - the Hamilton 7s this weekend and the Lake Macquarie 7s, and then the Crescent Head 7s on the 26th," he said.
"The two in Newcastle have been specifically identified as high performance tournaments."
There they will be coming up against the likes of Sydney Uni, Manly, UTS Gordon and the Hunter Wildfires.
The side for this weekend will be supplemented by two Next Gen 7s players in Mia Wood and Tamworth native Jada Taylor.
With the nucleus of the side either still in, or just out of, juniors, Beattie said it is really about exposing the players to that 'next level'.
"I would say two thirds of the squad have all come through Central North juniors program and they've played some high end junior tournaments, but that's their top end," he said.
"We're trying to expose them to that next level and just see how they go."
The development squad is one of several exciting initiatives in the pipeline for the women's game in the region, not only in the 7s sphere but across all the formats as they look to grow the game and also get more local talent recognised.
They already do have "some girls in the system". As well as the 7s trio Erika Maslen, who will play in Newcastle this weekend, has been identified by the Waratahs while Eliza O'Donnell played in the recent Waratahs trial in Bowral.
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