Australian rugby on the international level seems to be on the upswing, not just where the big side is concerned, but also on the men’s sevens team. They had an impressive pre-season and appear to be on the verge of a successful foray into the World Series.
Coach Andy Friend and his charges won three successive tournaments in the lead-up to the sevens World Series, winning at tournaments at Central Coast, Silicon Valley and Oktoberfest.
That success allowed Friend to send a developmental squad to Fiji for the Oceania Sevens. They did well there, despite debuting eight players with no previous caps, finishing third, despite a rather embarrassing 31 – 0 shutout at the hands of New Zealand in the semi-finals.
Friend is on a quest for speed and used some new selectioncriteria to pick his side for the World Series. He told Fox Sports, “If you can’t hit a certain speed, it doesn’t matter how good of a rugby player you are, you won’t be a sevens player for your country. We have got our own markers (around speed testing) within our selection criteria.We’ve got real depth growing now throughout the country, in all positions, which keeps pressure on the boys sitting in front.”
The World Series will be held in Dubai beginning on December 2 and will extend into the early part of 2018.
Friend has only a couple weeks to complete his final preparations, but he has been on the job for a while now and has the confidence that a bumper year for Aussie sevens is quite possible.
The squad did not do so well last year, finishing sixth in sevens. They last won in 2012, but the pre-season winning streak has instilled a sense of confidence in the players that they can win.
They have as their main targets the Sydney Sevens in January and the Commonwealth Games in April.