Qantas Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens Head Coach Michael O’Connor has identified Canada as a team to look out for ahead of the sixth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Japan this weekend.
Despite sitting ninth in the overall standings, O’Connor believes Canada’s centralised program is slowly reaping its benefits after reaching the Cup Semi-Finals in Las Vegas and the Cup Quarter-Finals in Wellington last time out.
“New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji are givens to do well in Tokyo,” he said. “Samoa have been close in recent times and could be a dark horse. However, Canada are the big improvers. They have size, speed and experience.”
Australia are currently fifth in the HSBC Sevens World Series, and O’Connor is looking forward to leading his side into battle at the 27,000 Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground.
“We’ve had a good preparation for the tournament. Over the past month since Wellington we’ve been working on team structures, while integrating new players into the squad.”
One of those new players will be former Waratahs flyer Afa Pakalani, who’ll be making his IRB debut on Saturday. “He’s a good ball carrier. One who’s not afraid of contact,” said the Head Coach.
“It’s very important the team picks up some momentum over the next four rounds before the Commonwealth Games later this year.”
The Aussies will play in Pool D where they will meet Spain, Scotland and England. The Tokyo Sevens will be live on Fox Sports.
Day 1, 22 March: 1155-1730 (Fox Sports 2), 1730-2225 (Red Button)
Day 2, 23 March: 1050-1830 (Fox Sports 1), 1830-1920 (Red Button)
Australian Sevens star Greg Jeloudev has been documenting his time in Tokyo so far through the ARU's Instagram account.
Check out all of Greg's posts in the ARU's Storify album.