The Australian Sevens team will prepare for the final two legs of the Sevens World Series by taking on New Zealand in a curtain raiser to the Super Rugby clash between the Waratahs and the Crusaders in Sydney on Sunday.
Coming off the back of a tournament win in Tokyo, coach Michael O'Connor is confident that his side is on the right track, and the exibition match against the current Series leaders and defending champions is intended to put the finishing touches on their preparations.
"It's a good opportunity to play an international match and get some more game time," O'Connor said.
"The opportunities for international competition outside of the Sevens World Series are few and far between, so it's great to be able to play and to do so in front of an Super Rugby crowd.
"It will be good for our boys to get a game against the current Sevens World Series leaders and possibly the best Sevens team in the world. It's also a great chance to get more exposure for the exciting, fast-paced Olympic sport," he added.
With the team set to depart on Sunday evening for the final two rounds of the current Series in Glasgow and London, O'Connor announced three changes to the squad that brought home the Tokyo Cup earlier this month.
In a common theme for this season, injury has forced O'Connor’s hand, with Tom English, Greg Jeloudev and Dan Yakopo ruled out. However, the injuries have opened the door for Lewis Holland, Solomoni Rasolea and Ed Stubbs to return from injuries that ruled them out earlier in the season.
"The guys returning are all front-line players, they've just been injured,” O'Connor said. "All three are real competitors and they'll bring some more leadership to the field."
Rasolea returns to the travelling 12 after making his debut at the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens in November, 2011 before being ruled out of competition following an injury in Dubai. Stubbs' last tournament was in Las Vegas in February.
In a significant boost for the youthful squad, 19-year-old Holland has recovered from a hamstring injury that forced him out of contention in the lead up to Hong Kong, after initially being named in the squad.
Earlier this year, O'Connor had been forced to bring inexperienced players into the fold to help fill injury voids and while expanding the depth of Australian Sevens, it also affected the team’s performances in the middle of the season.
But now, with a larger and more experienced player base, O'Connor is starting the reap the rewards, as seen in Tokyo, with the side's first Cup win since May 2010.
He commented: "There's no substitute for playing tournaments, the bulk of this squad now have been there from the start of the season, which has allowed us to build experience, we're fitter and we're tournament hardened now.
"We've had issues with injuries this season and we've had to use a lot of players, but the squad is starting to build familiarity and they want to do well," he added.
Following the win in Tokyo Australia were seeded first for the Glasgow Sevens, named in Pool A alongside England, United States and Kenya.
Australia faced both the English and Americans in Tokyo, defeating the United States before a clinical display saw them victorious over England 33-12 in the Cup semifinal. Their last game against Kenya was a 12-7 loss in the Bowl final at the Wellington Sevens in February.
While O'Connor admits Pool A isn't the toughest draw in Glasgow, he knows not to underestimate any side in the unpredictable world of Sevens.
"It's not the pool of death, England will be tough and probably seeking retribution for what we did to them in Tokyo. There's really no such thing as an easy pool, but I don't stress about the pools. If you're good enough, you get through," he said.
Australian Sevens squad to take on New Zealand: Damon Anderson, Michael Dolton, Will Miller, Solomoni Rasolea, Jordan Tuapou, Lindsay Crook, Jacob Taylor, Ed Stubbs, Trent Dyer, Matt Lucas, Lewis Holland, Shannon Walker.
Sevens Squad for Glasgow/London: Damon Anderson, Jesse Parahi, Sean McMahon, Solomoni Rasolea, Jordan Tuapou, Con Foley, Allan Faalavaau, Ed Stubbs, Ed Jenkins (captain), Matt Lucas, Lewis Holland, Shannon Walker.
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