HSBC SVNS 2024: Five to watch in the women's competition

Ahead of the first leg of the HSBC SVNS 2024, here are five players to keep an eye out for in Dubai.

Piper Logan (Canada) 

Calgary-born Piper Logan was a gymnast growing up but branched out into track and field in her teens. A chance conversation with her athletics coach on a rugby field, where she was invited to try out, followed. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Her progression has been swift. Canadian women’s head coach Jack Hanratty invited her in as a 20-year-old to train with the seniors in the summer of 2022. Within months, she was on the Commonwealth Games squad, where she faced her hero Portia Woodman-Wickliffe in the bronze medal match. Although she ended up on the losing side, she scored and was named in the end-of-tournament Dream Team. She has gone from strength to strength since. 

Still only 22, Logan is jet-heeled and – thanks to some rigorous strength and conditioning work – has put on a bit of muscle to carry through contact and hit harder. She's developing a bit of defensive acumen and decision-making at the high level and looks set to fly.

Teagan Levi (Australia)

The younger sister of magnificent Maddison, Teagan Levi broke onto the scene as something of a teenage prodigy. 

Like her sis, she grew up a dancer and the two dreamt of being cruise ship entertainers. They are now liberally cruising past defenders using those dancing feet on the SVNS circuit. Maddison has described her younger sister as having, ‘a bit of mongrel in her’.

Last year, she went from being a wider squad player to one of Australia’s starters and their kicker by the end of the campaign. At the age of 20, she has already won gold medals on the Sevens circuit, the Commonwealth Games, and the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Famed for her work ethic, Teagan is revered for her ferocity, athleticism and power.

It could be that in an Olympic year, she becomes a household name. 

Keep an eye out as well for Australia's Isabella Nasser, who is a 21-year-old rising star who has been tipped for big things this year.

Wakaba Hara (Japan)

The 23-year-old flyer from Japan is only 5ft 3ins, but once she’s gone through the gears, is pretty much uncatchable. Don’t believe me? Just look her up on X, where you’ll find plenty of videos of her running rings around better-known speedsters on the SVNS circuit to whet your appetite.

Along with her speed and incisive lines of running, she has a sharp Sevens brain, always seeming to bag herself an extra couple of seconds to make the conversion easier, dotting down beneath the posts. 

Hara was Japan's leading try-scorer last season and has already competed at an Olympics, been to a World Cup, and was at the Challenger Series when Japan won in 2022. 

In the Dubai leg of the series last year, she scored four tries, two against Fiji, one against Ireland, and one against China. Hara is on a different level.

Lauren Torley (Great Britain) 

Torley took up contact rugby in 2019 and went on to play for DMP Sharks in the Premier 15s. While there, her skillset saw her selected to represent Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. 

She was then picked up by Harlequins and is now out on the Sevens series in what has been a rip-roaring journey so far. Torley is light on her feet, barely rustling a blade of grass when she runs.

The 24-year-old plays heads-up rugby, but when she pins back her ears, is unbelievably quick. 

She's another player who has played in the World Cup and was involved in Team GB's qualification for the Olympics.

Torley was a stand-out performer in the competition, and while the GB sevens programme is still finding its feet after a challenging couple of years, the squad is beginning to look settled. She will be in the esteemed company in the way of speedsters, with Rhona Lloyd and Jaz Joyce, but equally players such as Ellie Boatman and Grace Crompton, who are also blisteringly quick.

Jorja Miller (New Zealand) 

The 19-year-old comes from a rugby family. Both her grandfather and her father played for Harlequins in Timaru, New Zealand, while her mother played for South Canterbury. Her brothers also play. 

Miller started with Highland dancing and moved into rugby via a dabble in basketball. She was noticed by the Black Ferns Sevens coaching team while still at school. 

In 2021, Miller was called into a high performance development camp by New Zealand Rugby. She went on to play for Canterbury in the Farah Palmer Cup, but injured her knee. She had two surgeries, missing out on the Commonwealth Games. 

She returned to make her international debut at the World Cup. In that Series she was named in four separate tournament Dream Teams, was the player of the final in Sydney, and crowned World Rugby's Rookie of the Year. 

The sevens starlet has just put pen to paper on a four-year contract with New Zealand Rugby. The signing will see her play for the Black Ferns until 2027 – it is the longest-ever deal signed by a female rugby player in New Zealand. 

As the Black Ferns set their sights on defending their Olympic title at Paris 2024, Miller will be central to their hopes of a second consecutive gold. Her background in dancing has left her with brilliant agility, fantastic lateral movement, and a spring in her step. Her moves downfield feel both choreographed and entirely spontaneous. A special talent.

By Imogen Ainsworth