Newly appointed coach to toughen Aussie women's sevens team

Emma Tonegato in action against Fiji during the Commonwealth Games. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Australia's newly installed women's sevens coach has already begun toughening up the Olympic champions whom he says have become targets for the world's improving teams.

John Manenti will take Australia's women's sevens squad to the Tokyo Olympics after the interim mentor was officially retained in the role until 2021 on Friday.

Assistant under former coach Tim Walsh, Manenti has been leading the side since Walsh took over as men's coach following April's Commonwealth Games.

He was strongly favoured to win the post despite more than 20 applications for the job and says after having his hand "half on the wheel" can now start planning beyond this year.

A former prop and three-time Shute Shield-winning coach with Eastwood, Manenti says there has been plenty of "bone on bone" action at training as he looks to improve what he views as the team's biggest weakness.

"Certainly I want to be better at those contact areas," he said.

"We want to ... use our speed to play the game away from there, but teams are targeting us in that area and we need to be better otherwise we're going to find ourselves on the other end of the stick too many times."

New Zealand have beaten the Australians in their past three games, including a crushing 46-0 loss in the most-recent world series final in Canada.

In the past Australia have often been able to cruise through against other developing sides on the back of their speed and skill, but Manenti knows that's not the case anymore as the 2020 Games loom and developing rugby nations roll out bigger and stronger athletes.

"Even teams that we won handsomely against (in Canada) attacked us really hard in the contact areas, I don't think it's any secret," he said.

"We need to be able to counter that before we can inflict on them what we want to do with the ball.

"So we've been a lot more physical than what we have been in the past at training."

Australia holds a slender four-point lead over New Zealand ahead of next week's series finale in Paris, with a grand final appearance enough for them to reclaim the title.

But they will have to do it without injured Olympic trio Ellia Green, Alicia Quirk and Sharni Williams, who Manenti has drawn a line through ahead of the squad announcement this weekend.