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By ARU Media Unit
Australian Rugby Sevens coach Michael O’Connor has made three changes to his squad which will take aim at preventing New Zealand from completing a hat-trick of IRB Sevens tournament wins in Wellington this weekend.
Captain Patrick McCutcheon has recovered from a groin strain and is fit to play in the two-day event starting on Friday, while former Western Force and Brumbies halfback James Stannard has been called into the side to replace the injured Zack Holmes (shoulder).
Queensland-based back Dominic Shipperley has replaced former NRL player Shaun Foley (ankle) while Brumbies academy flyhalf Robbie Coleman drops out of the 12-player squad.
Exciting Australian Schoolboys product Kimami Sitauti suitably impressed O’Connor in the recent Darwin Hottest Sevens tournament and has earned selection for the sell-out event at the “Cake-Tin” in Wellington.
“Kimami is a really good prospect,” O’Connor said.
“He played really well in Darwin, given it was his first taste of Sevens, and he learned a lot.
“There’s no real substitute for playing Sevens, you can go and train as hard as you want but to actually play games ... there’s no better way to learn the trade.”
Equal-third highest Series tryscorer Clinton Sills will be looking to add to his tally of 11 tries in Wellington and is chasing New Zealand flyer Sherwin Stowers (15), who’ll only have eyes for the chalk in front of a boisterous home crowd.
Australia open their campaign against Papua New Guinea and will also face Scotland and excitement-machines Fiji on Friday in the race to the finals.
New Zealand currently lead the IRB standings with two wins from the opening two tournaments and coach Gordon Tietjens has named an experienced squad with the hope of securing the 2009/10 tournament hat-trick.
Australia have enjoyed a solid preparation in Darwin ahead of the third stop on the eight-leg IRB Sevens World Series, holding practice matches against Kenya, who are currently one place ahead of Australia on Series standings in fifth.
FoxSports will be screening delayed coverage of the Wellington Sevens on Saturday 6 February from 10pm (AEDT).
The IRB Sevens World Series tournament lands in Adelaide on March 19-21 where the world’s best Sevens teams will compete over three days of intense, fast-paced competition at the prestigious Adelaide Oval.
Australian Sevens: Pat McCutcheon (capt), James Stannard, Brian Sefanaia, Eddie Quirk, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Jacob Taylor, Brackin Karauria-Henry, Talalelei Gray, Kimami Sitauti, Clinton Sills, Dominic Shipperley
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.