Philippa Tuttiett and Alisha Butchers have been forced to withdraw from the women’s Commonwealth Games sevens squad due to injury.
Tuttiett was set to captain the team on Friday at the Robina Stadium – in what will be the first time women’s sevens has been included in the Games – but a knee ligament issue has ruled her out.
It was hoped that Butchers would recover from an ankle injury suffered during the Women’s Six Nations in time to compete on the Gold Coast, but this has not proved to be the case.
“The squad has been rocked out here due to losing Philippa and Alisha,” admitted head coach Nick Wakley. “They have been model professionals and two players we as a team will miss incredibly.”
Travelling reserves Beth Lewis and Lucy Packer will step up to replace the injured duo.
The teenagers starred in the bronze-winning Team Wales side at last year’s Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, as well as reaching the finals of the School Games in Loughborough and the Rugby Europe U18 Sevens in Vichy.
Wakley added: “As hard as it has been telling players they won’t be fulfilling their dream of playing in the Commonwealth Games, I get to tell an 18- and 19-year-old they will be.”
In the absence of the highly experienced Tuttiett, Sian Williams takes over the captaincy of the team. “It’s great to have Sian here because she is someone with an abundance of experience and all the players’ respect,” added Wakley.
Team Wales have arguably the toughest draw of the competition. On Friday they face hosts Australia, then Fiji, followed by England on Saturday evening.
“We are here in the Games knowing we are huge underdogs and I’ve put no pressure on this side,” explained Wakley.
“We have a freedom to play and express ourselves as proud Welsh athletes, so I can’t wait to see some of the rugby these girls can play if they embrace that mindset fully and empty the tanks.
“I’m proud of every single one of these players and how we got to the Commonwealth Games, and the journey we have all been on. Unfortunately, injury is part and parcel of rugby.
“However, it gives you an idea about the positive culture of this group when you see the injured players telling their replacements not to feel bad, and consoling them for feeling bad about taking their place.
“They are wonderful representatives of their families, the Welsh Rugby Union and Team Wales.”