Walker's Eagles selected for Atlanta Sevens

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Richie Walker has named his first Women's Eagles Sevens touring side ahead of the home leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, HSBC Atlanta Sevens.

Jillion Potter takes over the role of captain in the team that currently holds the eighth position in the Series standings after two of the season's five rounds, with the April 8-9 event at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University set to be Walker's first in charge of the U.S. national team.

"We have some real good experience," Walker said. "We have some good speed and we have some good power. To have Jillion Potter as the team captain is massive for the younger kids. They respect her tremendously."

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Making their debuts on the Series are Meya Bizer and Nicole Heavirland, who played at the 2013 U20 Nations Cup together with the AIG Women's Junior All-Americans. Heavirland received her first senior 15s caps in last summer's Women's Rugby Super Series, while Bizer holds eight international caps, including five at Women's Rugby World Cup 2014.

Most recently, the two - as well as Richelle Stephens and Kate Zackary - suited up as USA Falcons at both the Las Vegas Invitational tournament and Vancouver Rugby Festival in the past month. Lauren Doyle, Jessica Javelet, and Kristen Thomas also ran out for the developmental side, which reached its LVI division's semifinal. Doyle and Stephens were unavailable for the second leg of the Series, Brazil Women's Sevens, due to injury, but have recovered for the event on home soil.

Walker, who coached the ATAVUS All-Star team in Las Vegas, split the group at the Olympic Training Center in four teams of seven earlier this week to aid in the selection process for Atlanta.

"Meya and Nicole really showed their worth in those scrimmages," Walker said. "Meya's powerful, she knows rugby, and she has a good rugby brain. Nicole stepped up and proved herself. She's a strong runner and very aggressive. That's the look we have in this team - aggressive and a lot of speed."

Doyle is second all-time in Series appearances for the U.S. with 15, two behind the absent Kelly Griffin, who will not don the U.S. jersey on the Series for the first time since its creation. Javelet, who made her first appearance on the circuit in Atlanta in 2014, has individually scored 45 points at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, while Thomas leads the Eagles this season with nine tries.

A disappointing opening round to the year saw the Eagles haul two points from Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, and an 11-week layoff allowed the athletes at the OTC to regroup for a fourth-place campaign in São Paulo. Though the Eagles will not have to worry about Olympic qualification as they did towards the latter stages of last season, only a maximum 18 matches are on offer for the remainder of the Series before the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games begin in August.

"I still have a patient outlook," Walker said of the run-up to the first Olympic Games to include Rugby Sevens. "For me, it isn't about the hard work right now. Believe me, when we come back from Langford, that's when we're going to switch on to just all hard work. If I do my job and I do it right with the time we have, we should be able to prepare well enough for the Olympics.

"Every single day, every single minute matters."

In five of the previous eight rounds on the Series - dating back to the beginning of the 2014-15 season - the U.S. has been in a pool with New Zealand, and the trend continues in Atlanta next weekend. Pool C also fields Japan and Spain, with the latter yet to secure a place at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

Atlanta Sevens tickets are still available for as low as $10 per day, with tournament kickoff scheduled for Friday, April 8, in Kennesaw, Ga. Tournament broadcast details will be announced next week.

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Atlanta Sevens
1. Jillion Potter (C)
2. Megan Bonny
3. Kate Zackary
4. Amelia Bizer
5. Ryan Carlyle
6. Nicole Heavirland
7. Alev Kelter
8. Bui Baravilala
9. Lauren Doyle
10. Richelle Stephens
11. Kristen Thomas
12. Jessica Javelet

Women's Eagles Sevens | Non-travelling reserves
Emily Azevedo
Carmen Farmer
Victoria Folayan
Christy Ringgenberg

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Atlanta Sevens
v. Spain - Friday, April 8 @ 2:20 p.m. ET
v. Japan - Friday, April 8 @ 5:04 p.m. ET
v. New Zealand - Friday, April 8 @ 7:26 p.m. ET