Friday, 17 February, 2012 – 14:24
The Australian Men’s Sevens side will look to improve on its sixth-place HSBC Sevens World Series ranking when it heads to Hong Kong in March for the sixth leg of the series.
The Aussie men have been drawn in Pool C along-side Fiji, France and Scotland.
Following a disappointing last-minute 19-17 loss to Canada in the Bowl final of the Las Vegas sevens last weekend, the Qantas Men’s Sevens side will be out to impress when the Hong Kong tournament rolls around on 23 March.
While there are no easy games in Sevens, Qantas Men’s Sevens coach Michael O’Connor said the draw would provide his side with some good opportunities in Hong Kong.
“It doesn’t matter what pool you get at the Sevens, they’re all tough,” O’Connor said.
“We’re sitting on the same points as France, so you’d consider that a pretty even match up, and we’re above Scotland in the ranking.
“We’re yet to beat Fiji this year, but I’m confident we’ll go well. It was always going to be tough, but it’s a good draw.”
O’Connor’s side is familiar with its opponents, having met all of them at least once on this year’s circuit.
While injury, youth and subsequent inexperience have hindered the Qantas Men’s Sevens side’s performances early in the tournaments of the Series, O’Connor knows games build experience and believes his side has learnt from its mistakes.
“We have the first five tournaments under our belt now and we’re better for it,” O’Connor said.
Preparation will be key for the Qantas Men’s Sevens side with almost six weeks until the tournament.
O’Connor has two events planned to ensure his side is fighting fit and to give him ample opportunity to assess his options for the upcoming tournament.
“Injury permitting, I don’t want to take players to Hong Kong who haven’t played at least one leg of the circuit before,” O’Connor said.
“I’m really going to try to pick guys who have played at the Hong Kong tournament before.
“It’s a different kind of tournament, the atmosphere is something else and it’s not a place you want to make your debut at.”
Members of the Qantas Men’s Sevens squad will meet for two sessions between now and departing for Hong Kong, the first of which will see 18 to 20 players gather in Sydney next Wednesday to assess where the team is at and where they need to be.
The squad will then reconvene for four days, starting February 27, at the Australian Institute of Sport.
This year’s fixture of the Hong Kong Sevens will for the first time act as a HSBC Sevens World Series qualifier and feature two tournaments running side by side. The first tournament features the 12 core sides, while the second consists of 12 teams from across the six IRB rugby regions, with the Top 3 finishers from that tournament earning core status for the 2012/13 season.