Being the daughter of a World Cup Wallaby gave Bella Nasser a headstart with rugby DNA yet she is the one impressively forging a key role in Australia’s women’s sevens team for the Perth SVNS.
Nasser, 21, is a wonderful reflection of how this champion women’s team is meshing both the youthful future of sevens in Australia with the inspirational pioneering which put the sport on the map.
When she runs out in Australian colours on February 26 at HBF Park for Australia’s pool openers against South Africa and Great Britain, Nasser will be the perfect example of sport’s power to inspire.
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She was still at school at Brisbane State High School as an impressionable 14-year-old in 2016 when she watched Charlotte Caslick, Sharni Smale (nee Williams) and Co win a superb Rio Olympics gold medal.
Proud former Wallaby Brendan Nasser celebrating daughter Bella’s World Schools Sevens success in 2019.
“My interest and excitement to play rugby sevens really accelerated when I watched on TV when the girls won at the 2016 Olympics,” Nasser said.
It helped greatly that Caslick was a former student at her school. There wasn’t even a women’s sevens team set up at Brisbane State High for Caslick to play in when she came through. That all changed and Nasser was one of the beneficiaries.
“Having sevens for Under-15s and Opens at my old school enabled me to play from a young age and it has only expanded there. It’s always an honour to pull on an Australian jersey to play alongside Charlotte,” Nasser said.
“Apart from being someone I’ve always looked up to, she’s very willing to pass on her knowledge which might be skills or just being able to watch her composure. She’s a really good captain and teammate.”
Nasser’s power, workrate around the field and ruck work for a sharp pilfer are features of her game. Her confidence is growing by the tournament too after trophy success to open this season in Dubai and Cape Town in the HSBC SVNS Series. (Bella is pictured second from left in the top row of the Dubai Sevens celebration photo).
“We had a pretty long pre-season on and off the field and more than anything those tournament wins reflect the hard work we’ve put it,” Nasser said.
In part, she can thank father Brendan for the right genes. As an uncompromising backrower, he played eight Tests for the Wallabies, including the pool win over Western Samoa when part of Australia’s World Cup-winning squad of 1991.
Her brother Josh, 24, plays as a hooker in the Queensland Reds squad in Super Rugby Pacific.
“We had some good backyard games as kids with another brother, Ollie, involved. The games started as touch but almost always turned into tackle. Josh has been a gym buddy and it really helped me starting out with a training partner from a professional rugby background,” Bella said.
“Obviously, Dad has a lot of knowledge. He’s never put pressure on, just highlighted the enjoyment, doing the basics and things like leg drive,” Nasser said.
“He doesn’t have old jerseys hanging up all over the house and never boasts about his game. It reminds Josh and I to be humble.
“People say he was determined and pretty ruthless as a player. Hopefully, I’ve taken on those elements as well.”
Playing a major tournament on home soil is so rare that Nasser and her teammates can’t wait to have family, friends and vocal Australian fans cheering them on at Perth’s first hosting of a tournament from the sevens World Series.
The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS Handa) is proudly supporting Australia’s men’s and women’s sevens teams for their Olympic journey after becoming principal partner in October, 2022.