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Aussies up for trans-Tasman battle

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:51
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Injury is a part of the game
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The 2013-2014 IRB World Sevens Series resumes in Las Vegas, from Friday (January 24) to Sunday (January 26), with the Australian team set to face the giants of the abbreviated version of the game - New Zealand and Fiji - on the first day.

In addition to the Pacific heavyweights, the team will vie against Scotland in Pool B for a place in the knockout stages of the competition.

With three rounds of the series complete, New Zealand (58) leads the competition ladder, with South Africa (56) second, followed by Fiji (48) in third.

England (40) lies in fourth, with Australia (34) rounding out the top five.

Las Vegas will be the fourth time in as many tournaments that Australia will play Scotland, having drawn 21-21 in the Gold Coast, followed by a 17-21 loss and a 31-19 victory in Dubai and South Africa respectively.

Three replacements and one enforced change have been made to the side that competed in South Africa with Sean McMahon, Luke Morahan and James Stannard replaced by familiar Sevens representatives, Allan Fa'alava'au, Cameron Clark and Peter Schuster.

Sean McMahon and Luke Morahan step down as they return to Super Rugby duties with the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.

The experienced Jordan Tuapou replaces Captain Ed Jenkins, who is unavailable due to injury.

"As with every athlete, injury is a part of the game that everyone has to deal with. I'm disappointed I won't be playing in Las Vegas, but I am confident in the team that will be representing Australia and look forward to seeing the guys out there," Ed said.

Men's Sevens Player of the Year, Con Foley, and the top try scorer in South Africa, Shannon Walker, will lead an Australian line-up with all players having HSBC Sevens World Series experience.

Coach Michael O'Connor said that having an experienced pool of players available to call upon for the series is invaluable in preparing for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"Sevens requires athletes with specific skill sets and physical attributes. It's great to be able to consistently select players who have these capabilities," O'Connor said.

"Although we select squads for tournaments on its merits, we have to keep competitions outside of the series in mind. This includes the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

"Developing the depth and talent pool to allow me to select specialist Sevens players for each tournament, builds a platform to win tournaments and gold medals," he added.

Australia: Jordan Tuapou, Con Foley, Jesse Parahi, Sam Myers, Allan Fa'alava'au, Peter Schuster, Greg Jeloudev, Cameron Clark, Shannon Walker, Nick Malouf, Tom Lucas, Paul Asquith.

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