Friend forced to blood teenage talent in Wellington

by Jill Scanlon

Relatively unknown Sydneysider Dylan Pietsch and Queenslander Tate McDermott will make their Australian Sevens debut this weekend, as two of five changes for third round of the HSBC World Series in Wellington.

It was just five weeks ago that these two teenagers pulled on the Australian jersey for the World Schools Sevens tournament in Auckland, where the Aussies defeated the Samoa's Barbarians 24-19 in the Cup final.

The pair continued their good form at the Hottest7s on the weekend, which did not go unnoticed by the Australian Head Coach.

“Both Tate and Dylan performed well up at Darwin." said Friend.

"Dylan’s quite a big bloke for an 18-year old; he’s got a good step on him and a good carry of the football - Momentum is his friend and he’s a powerful boy.

“Tate is more of a half, he’s sees the game of football and has very good feet on him to put people through holes and he can get through holes himself as well.”

With a good performance at next week’s Sydney Sevens high on the priority list, Friend will head across the ditch with a marked absence of experience.

The big omissions are Ed Jenkins (shoulder) and Jesse Parahi after the latter went down with a injury to his jaw at training.
Ed Jenkins is out with a shoulder injury. Photo: ARU Media.With the long-term injury absence of Holland, Lucas and Malouf making life difficult for Friend, a rebuilding process is evident for this season, but he remains determined that finishing outside the final eight in each tournament is unacceptable.

“The important thing for us is to get out of that third tier of teams," said Friend. "We finished 11th in our last tournament and we have (therefore) put ourselves in a very tough pool, so we have to fight and get out of that."

Australia will take on Fiji, South Africa and Japan in the Pool B group matches on Saturday, and while Friend admits that Sydney is the big performance target of the year, they will not be going lightly in New Zealand.

“Sydney is our target tournament this year and it’s our home tournament; it’s Australia playing in Australia so it’s very exciting but in saying that, we have to go to Wellington and do a job there.

"We know Sydney is around the corner but Wellington is the main focus right now."

Fox Sports will broadcast the two day tournament live on Fox Sports 2 from 8.50am (AEDT) on Saturday 28 January.

TEAM

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens squad, Wellington.

1. Henry Hutchison

2. Tom Kingston

3. Sam Myers

4. Alex Gibbon

5. James Stannard

6. Tate McDermott*

7. Boyd Killingworth

8. Dylan Pietsch*

9. Tim Anstee

10. Michael Adams

11. Charlie Taylor

12. Conor Mitchell

13th man - Simon Kennewell

*Denotes uncapped

FIXTURE

Day One – Saturday 28 January

Australia v Fiji, Pool B, 9.46am (AEDT)

Australia v South Africa, Pool B, 1.33pm (AEDT)

Australia v Japan, Pool B, 4.52pm (AEDT)

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