UTAS Lions coach Luke Burgess is willing to plot an emerging Launceston pair firmly on the rugby map.
The Tasmanians walked away from the opening round of the 2018 National University Sevens Series on the right side of the ledger twice from six appearances in Hobart over the weekend.
Wins on either side of day one and two over University of Melbourne 26-17 and then Bond University 26-7 had improved on the corresponding start last year in Launceston at the inaugural tournament.
But Burgess had reserved special praise for Tamar Valley Vixens teammates.
He told a national rugby audience that Alice Robinson and Lauryn Cooper were “really impressive” in the victories that placed the Lions sixth from the 10 teams.
The retired 37-Test capped Wallabies halfback had previously told The Examiner that reaching for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was not out of touch for his talented stars.
“Alice is an Australian-level touch player and Lauryn is just in her second year in sevens rugby, and she’s our captain,” Burgess told rugby.com.au, “so she has been a bit of a rock for us and they have performed really well across the tournament.”
But Burgess could find fault amid all the flair for the free-spirited running game.
The Lions conceded 139 points in 84 minutes of rugby.
At the core of the problem is Tasmania’s geographical divide, further exasperated in a non-rugby state.
“We would like to build our game on defence with a lot of inexperienced players,” Burgess said. “That’s really is the core of sevens rugby to be able to work together.
“The most important people are the people around you, so really building those connections between each other. We run two squads – Launceston and Hobart – all because we have such a small pool of players.
“That’s been a challenge, but building that connection between the whole team is what we’re all about.”
The hosts were forced to turn around an opening 39-5 loss to University of Queensland, who won not only the opening round but have taken out all five series rounds.
“Our girls were great – they have just worked so hard,” Burgess said. “In their second year in, they are a bit more resilient and they’re better.”