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By ARU Media Unit
Australian Rugby Sevens coach Michael O’Connor has today unveiled a new-look 13-man squad which will compete as the Aussie Thunder at the Gold Coast and Noosa Sevens tournaments later this month.
Three Delhi Commonwealth Games silver medallists, Bernard Foley, Ed Jenkins and Shaun Foley, headline the youthful group which will play its first tournament together on the Gold Coast on 13-14 November before heading to Noosa the following weekend (20-21 November).
The domestic tournaments will serve as key preparation ahead of Australia’s assault on the 2010/2011 HSBC Sevens World Series, which swings into action in Dubai on 3-4 December before stops in South Africa, New Zealand, the US, Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.
Australia finished a commendable third overall last season to achieve their best World Series result since 2000/01 and four members of the Games squad - captain Pat McCutcheon, tour bolter Nick Phipps and wingers Lachie Turner and Luke Morahan – were rewarded with selection on the Qantas Wallabies Spring Tour.
O’Connor, who is rebuilding his stable of talent after losing the majority of his top flight squad to Super Rugby, says the timing of back-to-back Sevens tournaments in his home state is perfect.
“In the past we haven’t had the luxury of game time before we’ve launched into the HSBC Sevens World Series,” O’Connor said.
“There’s no substitute for time on the field under proper match conditions.
“In Australia top-level competitions have been pretty scarce but the Gold Coast and Noosa International Sevens tournaments will provide fantastic preparation for us.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for some of these blokes to find their feet in Sevens and with positions up for grabs for the World Series, you can be sure the boys won’t be holding back.”
Australia won the Plate final in Dubai in 2009 and are every chance to improve on that result after being drawn in a favourable pool which could help them stay in the top side of the draw.
In Pool C, Australia will take on South Africa, who they beat to reach the gold medal playoff at the Games, and also battle Scotland and Russia.
A change to the HSBC Sevens World Series calendar in 2011 sees the Hong Kong event in March proceed the Australian leg of the tournament which will be staged at Adelaide Oval on 2-3 April.
Follow these links for more information on the Gold Coast and Noosa Sevens.
Aussie Thunder: Ed Jenkins (NSW), Bernard Foley (NSW), Shaun Foley (NSW), Tevita Kuridrani (QLD), Jono Lance (QLD), Hamish Angus (NSW), John Grant (NSW), Dan Yakopo (NSW), Michael Hodge (NSW), Kyle Godwin (WA), Zack Holmes (WA), Trent Dyer (NSW), Greg Jeloudev (NSW).
The Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team begins its quest for Olympic qualification in Rio with Dubai first up in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in December.