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By ARU Media Unit
Captain Bernard Foley is confident a new-look Australian Sevens squad will show the benefits of a solid preparation and hit the ground running when the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series kicks off in Dubai on Friday.
Foley says last month’s domestic tournaments on Queensland’s Gold and Sunshine Coasts have provided Australia’s 12-man squad - which features seven rookies - the opportunity to learn the intricacies of the game and forge all-important on-field combinations.
In just their second run together, Australia swept their competition aside to claim the Noosa title, while rookie John Grant scored six tries in the final to give coach Michael O’Connor further confidence in his selection.
“In the past couple of years we’ve probably gone into Dubai a bit underdone but this year having the back-to-back lead-up tournaments will definitely give us a bit of a head start,” Foley, 21, said.
“There is an experienced nucleus in the side with four of us having been to the Commonwealth Games, and Nick (Phipps) on the Wallabies tour, but we’re still a pretty new team with lot of new guys.
“We’re looking to hopefully replicate the success of last year’s team (third overall) and hopefully be even better.”
Foley, who last season played six of the eight tournaments on the world circuit, says he will rely on the experience and leadership of returning teammates and fellow Games silver-medallists Nick Phipps, Shaun Foley and vice-captain Ed Jenkins as they attempt to better last season’s opening result as Dubai Plate Final victors.
Australia have been drawn in Pool C alongside Scotland and Russia but South Africa pose the biggest threat on day one, despite having been bundled out of the race for medals in Delhi by O’Connor’s men in October.
Fox Sports 2 will telecast the action from Day Two on Sunday from 5pm (AEDT).
There’s an added incentive for the squad this season, with Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans making his support known for the Sevens pathway with 15 of 36 players from his Spring Tour squad having represented Australia in the shortened version of the game.
A change in 2011 sees the Australian leg of the series, staged in Adelaide, follow on from the Hong Kong Sevens as stop six on the eight-leg series which also visits South Africa, New Zealand, the US, England and Scotland.
Tickets for the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide are on sale now at Ticketek www.ticketek.com.au .
Australia: Bernard Foley (captain), Hamish Angus, Trent Dyer, Shaun Foley, John Grant, Michael Hodge, Greg Jeloudev, Ed Jenkins (vc) , Tevita Kuridran, Jono Lance, Nicholas Phipps, Dan Yakopo
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.