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By ARU Media Unit
Winger Afa Pakalani is set to make his debut for the Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team after being named in the squad that will travel to Japan in the sixth round of the 2013-2014 HSBC World Sevens Series.
Tokyo will host the next stop of the series on Saturday 22 – Sunday 23 March, with the Qantas Men’s Sevens looking to clinch their first Cup victory of the season.
Teams from across the world will gather at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground for a chance to showcase their skills to the Tokyo crowd as countries continue their quest for Sevens glory.
After a mixed tournament in the USA, the Aussie Sevens team bounced back in Wellington following a gripping 12-10 Plate Final victory over Canada.
24-year-old Pakalani is looking forward to making his bow for the Sevens national side.
“The team is gathering experience all the time. We are all looking to build on both individual and team performance in the weeks to come and I’m excited to be a part of this.
“With just a few more events in this season’s calendar, this is exciting times for Rugby Sevens in Australia. We’ve a young squad who are only going to get better and better. There’s still plenty to play for this year as far as I’m concerned. I have a chance to make an impression on Mick [O’Connor] and the coaching staff and I don’t intend on wasting it.”
Head Coach Michael O’Connor, who earlier this month announced he would be stepping down from his role, said: “I am more excited than ever to be coaching the Aussie Sevens team especially with the team a realistic chance for the Cup in Japan.
“We have a few new faces at camp and I firmly continue to believe that the future is looking bright for Rugby Sevens in Australia,” he added.
The quintet of Shannon Walker, Tom Cusack, Lewis Holland, Lausii Taliauli and Pama Fou are all sidelined with injury.
With five rounds of the series complete, New Zealand (99) lead the competition ladder, with South Africa (97) just two points behind. Fiji (73) and England (68) sit in third and fourth spot respectively, with Australia (59) rounding out the top five.
The draw for Tokyo will see Australia take on England, Scotland and Spain in Pool D, while leaders New Zealand vie against Canada, Wales and Portugal in Pool A.
Second place South Africa is in Pool B with Argentina, Kenya and Japan while Pacific heavyweights Fiji and Samoa battle it out against France and USA in Pool C.
Game 1 of Australia’s Japan campaign begins with a hearty clash against Spain which gets underway at 1:06pm – Saturday 22 (AEDT).
Fans can watch all the action live on Fox Sports 2 from 12:00pm on Saturday 22 and from 10:00pm on Sunday 23 (AEDT) with all matches streamed live at http://www.irbsevens.com/index.html.
The next HSBC Sevens World Series tournament for the Qantas Men's Sevens team will take place in Hong Kong on Friday 28 - Sunday 30 of March.
Follow the Qantas Men's and Women's Sevens with updates on Twitter @Aussie7s
Australian Men’s Sevens fixtures in Tokyo, Japan on 22 March:
Australia v Spain, Pool D, 1.06pm (AEDT)
Australia v Scotland, Pool D, 4.24pm (AEDT)
Australia v England, Pool D, 8.36pm (AEDT)
Australian Men’s Sevens squad for the 2013 - 2014 HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo, Japan:
Ed Jenkins. Club: Sydney University, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Con Foley. Club: University of Queensland, QLD. Hometown: Fairfield, QLD
Jesse Parahi. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Avoca Beach, NSW
Sam Myers. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Grenfell, NSW
Allan Fa'alava'au. Club: Endeavour Hills, VIC. Hometown: Dandenong, VIC
Peter Schuster. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Greg Jeloudev. Club: Sydney University, NSW. Hometown: Oatlands, NSW
Cameron Clark. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Nick Malouf. Club: University of Queensland, QLD. Hometown: Robertson, QLD
Tom Lucas. Club: Sunnybank, QLD. Hometown: Upper Mount Gravatt, QLD
Alex Gibbon. Hometown: Miranda, NSW
Players from the Qantas Australian Women's Sevens program visited the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick on Thursday to bring some needed festive cheer to sick children.