THE shadow Australian national men's and women's sevens side is confirmed for the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens on November 15 to 17.
Tournament chairman Jay Whyte announced yesterday the inclusion of Aussie Thunderbolts (men) and Aussie Pearls (women) in the tournament to be held at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.
Whyte said they were delighted to welcome the Michael O'Connor-coached Thunderbolts and the Pearls, who are the reigning Women's Rugby World Cup 7s champions.
"Both sides will be using the tournament as preparation for a busy season on the world circuit and we are sure they will have an incredible experience in the spiritual home of the game," he said.
"The presence of these two world-class sides, which join 12 other teams from overseas, is a wonderful endorsement for the Coral Coast 7s and we thank the Australian Rugby Union for honouring us with their presence."
Whyte said the Thunderbolts were expected to feature the bulk of their squad from the Gold Coast 7s tournament next month.
"Fijian-born duo Dan Yakopo and Joe Lalagavesi, captain Ed Jenkins, rugby league convert Shannon Walker and rising star Pama Fou, are in the frame for selection," he added.
Whyte said the Pearls, which recently won the Asia-Pacific Women's 7s tournament, would also bring a strong side for the inaugural women's tournament.
"Captain Rebecca Tavo, whose family hails from Rotuma, and Iliseva Batibasaga, the daughter of Fijian Sevens representative Isimeli, are among the players to watch in the side," he said.
The Pearls will join Fijiana, Marist Seahawks and Lady Babas (all Fiji), Sydney University, Parramatta Two Blues and Sunnybank (all Australia) and Auckland Marist from New Zealand in the women's tournament.
The men's tournament is the most exciting field in the three-year history of the tournament, with three national sides - Australia, Tonga and the Cook Islands - joining champion clubs Wardens, Sunnybank, Otago University and Daveta, sponsored sides Pacific Warriors, Serevi Select, Shangri-La Lomaiviti, Outrigger Nadroga, Naviti, Hideaway Hurricanes and Sigatoka River Safari Navosa the top eight teams from the upcoming Great Eight qualifier. Two overseas teams are still to be announced.
Tickets for the tournament will go on sale in October.