Stanley takes step forward on long road to Rio in 2016

IT'S the switch that could put Queanbeyan women's rugby sevens star Nikki Stanley on the podium at the next Olympic Games.

The full-time public servant has been invited to train with the Australian squad after a solid leap from the backline to the forwards for the ACT at the National Rugby Sevens Championships in Canberra last weekend.

With the sport set to make its Olympic debut at Rio De Janiero in 2016, Stanley's move could see her become Queanbeyan's next Olympian.Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh took notice of Stanley in her six tournaments before nationals playing for the ACT, and told her she could train with his squad if she switched to the forwards.

Her solid build and strength was in his mind her greatest asset.

And he said Stanley's performance at the National Championships was the best he has seen from her.

"Her attributes are amazing. She is big and strong, and at the same time she is fast. She works hard in the breakdown and has the ability to break the line and run 50 metres to score," he said.

Although Stanley has participated in national development camps in the past, she will get a look at a standard training session with the Australian side for the first time on March 20.

"For me, I know that I need to keep improving my strength and fitness, as well as looking at my core rugby skills," Stanley said.

Stanley has only been playing sevens since 2012 when she made another significant transition from rugby league's touch football format to rugby union's sevens form.

Word of mouth from contacts within her touch football side, the Canberra City Bears, made it to the ACT Brumbies who took her on board for the ACT women's Sevens side straight away.

Stanley said the dream of being an Olympic athlete and turning her passion for sport into professionalism sparked her decision to make the switch from touch football.

"Rugby sevens has grown rapidly as a sport and as a result a lot of girls are making the transition from touch football," she said.

"At the time I changed it had been announced that rugby sevens would be played at the Commonwealth and Olympic games, so for me this was a big factor in deciding to play it."

"The hardest part about the move was learning how to tackle, as sevens is still full contact."

Stanley registered with the Queanbeyan Whites 15-a-side women's team last year to improve her tackling and to learn more about the game. 

She will enter her second season with the club this year.

Stanley was one of three Queanbeyan Whites players to represent the ACT at last weekend's nationals alongside Carly Hill and Kelly Goodwin.

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