Aussie men want to make a second-week stand in Cape Town

Mens - Cape Town
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia’s men's Sevens want to prove they’re more than a one-week team when the Cape Town Sevens kick off this weekend, coach Tim Walsh says.

With each World Series block split into back-to-back weeks, the challenge of delivering in the second is always a difficult one and Australia’s recent Cape Town history shows they have much to prove.

Australia’s men have struggled in Cape Town in recent years, with ninth, 11th and seventh place finishes in the past three years after generally solid performances in Dubai.

The Aussies finished fourth in Dubai this year, going agonisingly close to the podium and Walsh said they had to improve on that this week.

“(We finished) top four in Dubai and making sure we're staying focused and making sure that we're a second week team as well as a first-week team,” he said.

One of the challenges of backing up comes in injury issues and the Aussie men will have to counter some of those in Cape Town.

Tim Anstee has already flown home, nursing an ankle injury, while forward Boyd Killingworth was also carrying an ankle concern when the team arrived in South Africa.

Tom Connor in action against Scotland. Photo: Getty ImagesTom Connor travelled with the team to Cape Town after playing in an invitational tournament in Dubai and Simon Kennewell could be an outside chance to play his first tournament in a year after an ACL injury.

Kennewell will train with the team in South Africa, having made his rugby comeback in the Queensland Premier 7s last month, and is considered unlikely to play but Walsh flew him over to help him transition back into the Sevens touring world.

“He's had 10 months out, certainly don't want to rush him back but he's very talented player and someone who obviously is going to play a big part in the future of Sevens,” he said.

“We just wanted to see how he goes and get him back in the Sevens mode of touring and just remembering how it is because after such a lengthy time we want to ease him back in in the appropriate way.

With little time for radical changes or even much full training in the second week of these back-to-back tournaments, Walsh said the biggest challenge was simply keeping the team fresh.

“It’s massively different in terms of trying to mentally and physically sharpen up when it comes to the second week,” he said.

“You’re not going to do a lot physically so it's more about recovery, making slight adjustments to your game in terms of reviewing strengths and weaknesses but then also looking at your opposition and after the first round of the whole series you can pick up different things around what the opposition have been working on, how the referees are reffing the game and then of course your environment.”

Australia faces Scotland, Canada and Wales in their Cape Town pool, with a quarter-final likely to be against either New Zealand or South Africa.

FIXTURES

Cape Town Sevens. All times AEDT.

Saturday December 8

 7:37pm - Australia vs Wales

10:58pm - Australia vs Canada

Sunday December 9

2:19am - Australia vs Scotland