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Tough draw for Gold Coast hosts

Wed, 11 Sep 2013 10:43
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Samoa must be one of the favourites
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Hosts Australia will play Samoa, Argentina and Scotland on Day One of the 2013/14 Sevens World Series opener, following the release of the Gold Coast tournament draw.

Skilled Park will host 16 international teams playing 45 matches on Saturday, October 12 and Sunday, October 13 for the opener of the nine-round World Sevens Series.

Holders of the World Series and World Cup Sevens trophies, New Zealand take on the United States in the opening match of the tournament.

In their last meeting, at the World Cup in Moscow earlier this year, the USA lead the Kiwis into the final stages of a tense match only to lose after the final siren.

If this opening game is anything to go by, the tournament is sure to provide first-class play throughout the two-day tournament.

Boosted by an equal fifth placing in Moscow, the Australian squad is looking to kick off the season with a home-crowd advantage.

Australian coach Michael O'Connor acknowledged that Samoa and Argentina finished above the Australians last year, so it will be a very competitive pool.

"Argentina is coming off a very strong recent performance in Columbia at the World Games where they finished a close second to South Africa," O'Connor said.

"Scotland was one of the most improved sides last year, showing the benefit of an experienced player roster, combined with a full time centralised program. Scotland has had some significant wins over many of the top teams.

"Samoa must be one of the favourites to win the title, with so much local talent."

Aussie captain Ed Jenkins said the side was looking forward to getting back to the Gold Coast and that the draw would provide some tough matches.

"It's hard to know where teams are currently at with their pre-season training so our focus is solely on our own preparation at the moment and where we can improve our game," Jenkins said.

"Over the years we have had some great battles with Samoa and there is no doubt that it will be a very physical encounter as usual.

"Argentina has been a side to knock us out in crucial games over the past few years so we will have to be at our best if we are to beat them in a month's time."

Several much-anticipated match-ups on day one promise to give fans a taste of finals-like action.

Last season's runner-up South Africa faces World Cup runner up England in Pool B.

Defending Gold Coast Sevens champions Fiji heads up Pool C playing Wales, Portugal and Canada.

Pools:

Pool A: New Zealand, Kenya, United States, Tonga
Pool B: South Africa, England, France, Spain
Pool C: Fiji, Wales, Canada, Portugal
Pool D: Samoa, Australia, Argentina, Scotland

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