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By ARU Media Unit
The return of Western Force centre Brian Sefanaia and Queensland Reds back Kimami Sitauti has provided the Australian Sevens team with a significant boost ahead of their home tournament, the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide this weekend (2-3 April).
Sefanaia, who made his Super Rugby debut against the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday (AEDT), comes back into the side after missing the Hong Kong tournament where Australia finished sixth, while Sitauti returns to the Sevens fold for the first time since helping Australia secure a silver medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Coach Michael O’Connor has welcomed the return of the experienced pair for the sixth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, as replacements for John Grant and Henry Vanderglas (ribs).
“It’s really great to have Kimami and Brian back for our home tournament in Adelaide, it gives us a real boost,” O’Connor said.
“Kimami was outstanding for us last year during the World Series and also in Delhi – and he’s really excited about getting some game time after warming the bench for the Reds.
“Brian was originally coming with us to Hong Kong but he received a late call up to play for the Force.
“They both will bring invaluable experience into the group and they’re familiar with the setup and also the other players so that’s great.”
Sixth-placed hosts Australia have been drawn in a challenging pool alongside USA, Tonga and Fiji for the two-day, 16-team event at the refurbished Adelaide Oval.
O’Connor says Fiji will be his side’s toughest challenge and rates the Pacific Island entertainers as genuine contenders for the Adelaide crown.
“I think Fiji have definitely been the best side not to win a tournament this year,” O’Connor said.
“They were very impressive in Hong Kong but fell at the final hurdle and have been very unlucky.
“They’re certainly going to be a big test for our boys.”
At last year’s event, Australia fought back from a 22-14 deficit with just two minutes remaining to topple Fiji 26-22 to stay in the race for the Cup, before bowing out to eventual tournament and World Series champions Samoa in the semi-finals 26-12.
Samoa defeated Cup-final debutants USA 38-10 to win the 2010 Adelaide Sevens, while Australia’s Cup semi-finals appearance was equal to their best result at their home event.
After five stops on the eight-leg 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, Hong Kong victors New Zealand (110) lead England (105) on the standings, ahead of Samoa and Fiji (84).
Fifth-placed South Africa (72) who defeated Australia in last Sunday’s Plate Final in Hong Kong, have lengthened their lead over Australia to 26 points.
Tickets are still available for the fifth annual International Rugby Sevens Adelaide and start from just $55 for a two-day pass. Visit Ticketek www.ticketek.com.au.
FULL SQUAD PLAYER PROFILES HERE
Past winners of the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide:
2009: South Africa
2008: South Africa
Australia: Bernard Foley (capt), Ed Jenkins, (vc), Hamish Angus, Shaun Foley, Lewis Holland, Zack Holmes, Greg Jeloudev, Tevita Kuridrani, Jono Lance, Brian Sefanaia, Kimami Sitauti, Jacob Taylor.
Australian Rugby Sevens proudly supported by the Australian Institute of Sport
Over 500 young men and women had the opportunity to show off their skills and athleticism yesterday, as the Australian Rugby Union’s Search for a Star took place across the country looking to identify players who may have the potential to represent their country in Rugby Sevens.