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By ARU Media Unit
The Australian Rugby Sevens believe the advantage of playing at home will give them an extra edge as they prepare to tackle fierce competition from 15 nations at the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide which kicks off at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Coach Michael O’Connor’s side are coming off their best result at the IRB Sevens World Series in two years after they recorded an upset victory over Pacific heavyweights Fiji in Las Vegas, but fell to eventual champions Samoa by two-points.
Injuries have forced three changes to the high-flying squad from Las Vegas with Bernard Foley (ankle), Brian Sefanaia (cruciate) and Australia’s leading tryscorer Clinton Sills (hamstring) all ruled out.
Replacements Sam Latunipulu and Ed Stubbs will make their IRB Series debut.
In one of the most competitive Series in recent times, Samoa, after their victory in Las Vegas, have narrowed the gap to leaders New Zealand while Australia (46) can leapfrog fourth-placed England (50) with a solid performance in Adelaide.
O’Connor believes his youngsters are capable of handling the unique demands of a home event.
"I think pressure's a really good thing for these boys and coming off a pretty good result in Las Vegas we're really looking forward to this one," he said.
"It's a great experience for them, to see whether they can step up to the mark or not and benchmark themselves against the best in the world."
Australia have enjoyed playing at Adelaide Oval and last year finished top of their pool and won their way through to the Plate Final against England where they were defeated 24-19.
Sevens powerhouse South Africa took out the Adelaide tournament for the second consecutive year in 2009, after beating crowd favourites Kenya 26-7 in the Cup Final. Fiji claimed the first Adelaide Sevens title in 2007.
Australia kickoff of their 2010 Adelaide Sevens campaign against Niue, a tiny nation from the Pacific Islands, on Friday night in their opening Pool D match, before matches against the US and arch-rivals England on Saturday.
Recently-awarded Olympic status will amplify the carnival and colour of the Adelaide Sevens after the IOC voted to include the shortened version of the game into the roster from 2016.
Australian Sevens: Patrick McCutcheon (capt), James Stannard, Eddie Quirk, Liam Gill, Jacob Taylor, Brackin Karauria-Henry, Kimami Sitauti, Robbie Coleman, Tala Grey, Dominic Shipperely, Sam Latunipulu, Ed Stubbs. Coach: Michael O’Connor
The Australian Women’s Youth Olympic Rugby Sevens team reserved its best performance for the Gold Medal match as they demolished a brave Canadian outfit (38-10) in Nanjing today.