Steelers chasing redemption at Paris Games

Fuelled by a disappointing campaign in Tokyo, and with a target on their backs, Australia's wheelchair rugby team are determined to leave the Paris Paralympics with nothing less than a gold medal.

Reigning world champions Australia won Paralympic gold at the 2012 and 2016 Games but slipped to fourth in Tokyo.

"I feel that we were a little bit cheated in a way in those Paralympic Games," Steelers superstar Ryley Batt told AAP at Wednesday's squad announcement. 

Steelers players react after losing to Japan in the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Paralympics.

"The team looked really good, but we just couldn't gel as a team because we spent two years away from each other because of COVID restrictions and a few of our teammates got sick during the comp. 

"So definitely redemption. We've redeemed ourselves the last couple of years in a world champs and at World Cup level but nothing beats a Paralympic level and to have another Paralympic gold medal hung around our necks."

Batt, heading to a record sixth Paralympics in August, has high expectations.

"We're definitely going to be the hunted. There's so many teams that wrote us off a couple of years ago and they're like 'oh the Australians are done' and we've proved to them that no, we're not done," Batt said. 

"We're just recovering from a pretty bad COVID period. We've got a target on our backs but so what? That's great. I love it. 

"I feel like we have the the experience in our team and the pressure's on the other teams."

Batt, 35, will relish his Games milestone, plus reaching 350 national team games - in front of family and friends in Paris.

Ryley Batt
Ryley Batt is heading to a record sixth Paralympics wheelchair rugby compdetition.

"Number six is something very special to me because it's making history," he said.

"Hopefully it's not but this could be my last Paralympic selection so I'm gonna lap it up and enjoy it."

The 12-athlete squad includes five debutants - Brayden Foxley-Conolly, Beau Vernon, Emilie Miller, James McQuillan and Josh Nicholson.

There are also a record three female athletes: Shae Graham, Miller and Ella Sabljak, with the latter a wheelchair basketball competitor in Tokyo.

"We just bring a mellowness to the team and just bring a different vibe and energy which only benefits the team in the long run," Graham told AAP.

"We see things differently, have different strategic mindsets, I guess, and it just seems to work within the team."


* Chris Bond (c)

Classification: 3.5, matches for Australia: 246, previous Paralympics: 2012, 2016, 2020

* Ryley Batt

Classification: 3.5, matches: 248, Paralympics: 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020

* Brayden Foxley-Conolly

Classification: 3.5, matches: 29, Paralympics: debut

* Shae Graham

Classification: 2.5, matches: 82, Paralympics: 2020

* Ella Sabljak

Classification: 2.5, matches: 26, Paralympics: 2020 (wheelchair basketball)

* Andrew Edmondson

Classification: 2.0, matches: 198, Paralympics: 2016, 2020

* Josh Nicholson

Classification: 2.0, matches: 111, Paralympics: debut

* Jake Howe

Classification: 1.0, matches: 129, Paralympics: 2020

* Ben Fawcett

Classification: 0.5, matches: 205, Paralympics: 2016, 2020

* James McQuillan

Classification: 0.5, matches: 35, Paralympics: debut

* Emilie Miller

Classification: 0.5, matches: 30, Paralympics: debut

* Beau Vernon

Classification: 0.5, matches: 16, Paralympics: debut

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