Qantas Men’s Sevens coach, Michael O’Connor, has named his squad for the Hong Kong and Tokyo rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, with two changes to the side that claimed Shield honours in Las Vegas.
Injuries to Jordan Tuapou and Peter Lee have forced the two changes, prompting call ups for former Australian Sevens player James Stannard and uncapped Brisbane Premier Rugby player Simon Morahan.
O’Connor is happy with the squad he has compiled with the tour and said Stannard will add further experience to his young side.
“It’s certainly a strong squad,” O’Connor said.
“We’ve just got to continue working on what we’re doing and get better at it collectively.
“One of the things we don’t do well is share the workload on the field.
“We’ve changed the way that we’ve played to a certain extent so that’s still a work in progress.”
Stannard’s most recent Rugby has been with Japanese Top League side Shokki and prior to that with the Western Force.
The 30-year-old has ample Sevens experience having won a Silver medal with the Australians at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and captaining the side that won the London Sevens at Twickenham in the same year.
“He’s keen to get back involved so we’re keen to have him,” O’Connor said.
“He brings a lot of experience and leadership. We’re a young side with an average age of 20, so to have more experienced players on the field certainly helps.”
Simon Morahan, the brother of Queensland Reds and Qantas Wallabies winger Luke Morahan, plays Premier Rugby with University of Queensland and was previously involved in the Australian Sevens training squad.
“Simon was in our program a couple of years ago but never got to play on the World Series circuit due to injury,” O’Connor said.
“He’s no stranger, we’ve had him in the program and he’s been given an opportunity through hard work.”
O’Connor has retained some powerful forwards from the Las Vegas squad, with Jesse Parahi captaining the side, along with strong ball runners Ben Adams, Will Miller and Sean McMahon.
The Backs see the return of playmaker scrumhalf Lewis Holland, playmaker Cam Clark along with Con Foley, Tom Cusack, Pama Fou and Shannon Walker.
With the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia just three months away, O’Connor said each tournament is crucial to the development of his side.
“We’re not thinking about the World Cup now, we’re thinking about Hong Kong,” O’Connor said.
“We need to get some momentum and it’s going to start now, these next couple of tournaments are key.
“Every game is a final for us, we’ve got to approach every game with that sort of intensity. We’re in a really tough pool but in saying that it’s probably a good thing.”
The Qantas Men’s Sevens still have several players yet to return from injury, with Allan Fa’alava’au, Jordan Tuapou, Junior Laloifi, Lausii Taliauli, Nick Malouf, Peter Lee and regular captain Ed Jenkins all unable to be considered for selection.
Australia will face South Africa, Wales and Argentina in pool play. The Hong Kong Sevens runs Friday 22 – Sunday 24 March, while the Tokyo Sevens will run from Saturday 30 – Sunday 31 March.
Qantas Men’s Sevens Hong Kong/Tokyo squad
1 Ben Adams Mount Gravatt, QLD
2 Cam Clark St. Ives, NSW
3 Tom Cusack Canberra, ACT
4 Con Foley Fairfield, QLD
5 Pama Fou Gailes, QLD
6 Lewis Holland Braidwood, NSW
7 Sean McMahon Hendra, QLD
8 Will Miller Berry, NSW
9 Simon Morahan (debut) Gold Coast, QLD
10 Jesse Parahi (C) Fairlight, NSW
11 James Stannard Perth, WA
12 Shannon Walker Salisbury, QLD