The Final squads have been announced by the men and women's teams in Sydney as they get set to do battle on the HSBC World Sevens Series
The final squads for the third round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series have been announced.
With the Rugby World Cup Sevens just over six months away in San Francisco teams will be battling it out not only for the Sydney Sevens title but also crucial Sevens World Cup seedings points which will determine the all important draw for the major tournament.
After two rounds New Zealand lead the way ahead of reigning series champions South Africa, Fiji and England.
Blitzbok veteran Kyle Brown has achieved many things on the HSBC World Sevens Series circuit but has never played at the Sydney Sevens. It will be his 61st tournament and he could play his 300 match at the tournament. South Africa won the Sydney Sevens last year and won Dubai the first tournament of the 2017/2018 series.
Australian Men’s Sevens coach Andy Friend made two changes to his side ahead of the Sydney7s this weekend at Allianz Stadium kicking off on Australia Day. The home team placed fourth in 2017 but will be buoyed by home team support.
Veteran Jesse Parahi returns to the team while speedster Charlie Taylor has earned his first start of the 2017/18 season after impressing in Darwin last weekend at the Hottest7s. Friend also had to make a last minute change when Simon Kennewell was injured in training midweek. Tom Connor comes into the squad to make his series debut.
Aussie captain Lewis Holland said, “It's the first tournament of the year in front of family and friends on home soil so it is a great way to kick-off the year for us. Home support is a massive boost and we will try to use the crowd to our advantage and hopefully we will get the result we desire.
“We are focussed on the parts of the game we can control rather that who we are playing. That said we do have specific game plans and we want to be better in the key high pressure points of the game that occur in sevens.”
For New Zealand coach Clark Laidlaw has introduces some new names. Counties Manukau's Etene Nanai-Seturo is set to make his All Blacks Sevens debut this weekend, while Luke Masirewa returns after last appearing on the Sevens Series in 2013.
Like wise Fiji has some new faces in Sydney also. Debutants Apete Daveta and Vasikali Mudu are keen to make the country proud when they represent the team in Sydney. The duo, who are part of the Nadroga squad, are making their transition from Fifteens rugby to the Sevens code.
The final squads for the second round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series have been announced.
With the Rugby World Cup Sevens just over six months away in San Francisco teams will not only be battling it out for the Sydney Sevens title but also crucial Sevens World Cup seedings points that will determine the draw for the tournament.
USA, host nation of Rugby World Cup Sevens, surprised New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the Dubai tournament last November and face the Black Ferns in Pool B in Sydney along with England and Japan.
The USA lie second in the series after reaching the final in Dubai where they eventually lost to Australia but would love to go one better in Sydney.
USA captain Nicole Heavirland said, “We have taken time to acclimatise this week but the impact of the travel and time difference means just the one training session per day. That is not unusual in the series but after Dubai we want to get to the next level.”
“We have worked on retaining possession and on our tackling and ensuring we play as a unit. We face New Zealand in our third pool match and we know what to expect following the match in Dubai which we won 14-12.”
Since winning the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Black Ferns Sevens have lost only two of their 42 matches on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, winning five of the seven tournament titles and a fourth series crown in that time.
But they have had a slow start to the 2017/2018 series and will be keen to improve on their fifth place in the Dubai opener last November.
Sarah Goss the New Zealand captain said, “Like all the other teams we enjoyed a break over New Year but we have had several camps since then and our focus is now on Sydney and the tournament.”
“We are not too focused on what went wrong in Dubai but we know that we have to improve to get back to the top. It's a case of doing the small things well and the rest will take care of itself. The basics are important and we have worked on those.”