Dubai: The last time the Australian women's team left Dubai, it was with a World Cup trophy in their luggage. That was after defeating New Zealand in the thrilling final of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009.
And the Aussie side will be back next month in search of more silverware as they compete in the first ever IRB-sanctioned women's tournament at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
Part of the Australian squad will be a woman whose name is not at all unfamiliar in international rugby circles — Kristy Giteau, whose younger brother Matt will be one of the star speakers at this week's Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch, having represented the Wallabies in 92 Tests and two Rugby World Cups.
"It was inevitable that I would play some form of contact sport with three brothers who grew up playing rugby league and union," said Giteau, whose father Ron also represented Australia in rugby league.
"Watching my siblings play at club, state, national and international level inspired me to give rugby a go. I am an opportunist, so I got into sevens as a result of trying to fill my off-season from 15s, while sneaking some fitness and fun into my weekends," added the primary school teacher who works as regional co-ordinator of a community sports programme.
Giteau wasn't part of the Australian squad in 2009 but is relishing the prospect of returning to the site of her teammates' success.
The Australian women's team will be among the favourites for the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup, which will be contested by eight international teams. They have been grouped together with Canada, Spain and Brazil in Pool A, while USA, England, South Africa and China are in Pool B.