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By ARU Media Unit
Australian Rugby Union today named the Qantas Men’s Sevens squad for this weekend’s Wellington Sevens, which features four changes and will see two members of the 12-man squad making their Australian Debuts.
Thomas English and Cameron Clark have both been rewarded for their hard work at the recent Hottest Sevens tournament in Darwin receiving their first call up to the National side up for the fourth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series – the first since December last year.
While Ed Stubbs and Daniel Yakopo, who are both returning from injury, have also been selected in the Qantas Men’s Sevens 12-man squad for the Friday and Saturday tournament.
The four new inclusions replace Bill Meakes, Danny Routledge, Jo Lalagavesi and Will Miller from the squad that played in Port Elizabeth last December.
Speaking from the team’s hotel in Wellington Qantas Men’s Sevens coach, Michael O’Connor, said the squad was one of the strongest and more experienced selected this series.
“Having Dan Yakopo and Ed Stubbs back from injury adds experience and leadership to the side,” O’Connor said.
“While neither have played a lot of international Rugby recently due to injury both Ed and Dan are senior players who have performed on the world stage before so it is great to have them fit and back in Australian colours.
“Our two debutants, Cameron and Thomas, showed at the recent Hottest Sevens tournament in Darwin that they have the potential to match it with the best on the world stage.
“Cameron has been on the radar for some time, coming up through Schoolboy Rugby, the Junior Gold Squad and last year the Youth Commonwealth Games, unfortunately though he has been hampered by a number of injuries.
“However he has shown when fit, particularly at last year’ s Youth Commonwealth Games and up in Darwin this year, that he can be a very a valuable player in attack.”
The Wellington tournament marks the first occasion that the Aussie Men will compete with the country’s iconic Qantas logo on the front of their jersey after last week announcing the airline had come on board as naming rights partner.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side, who are currently sitting sixth on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings after three rounds are pitted against France, Canada and Kenya in Pool D.
With a potential quarter final clash against either Samoa or hosts New Zealand awaiting the Aussies on Day two, should they finish first or second in their Pool, O’Connor said he expected big things from the group.
“We’ve got a strong squad of players who have worked hard, want to be here and are keen to enjoy a successful start to 2012,” O’Connor said.
“There are four players in this squad who took part in Wellington last year so they’ll know what to expect and I have no doubt their experiences will stand us in good stead when we’re being challenged by the opposition and possibly the crowd.
“With the team we’ve got I’m expecting us to be in the mix on the final day and really challenging for a spot in the Cup Final.
“We’ve got matches on day one against France, Kenya and Canada and if we finish first or second in our pool then we’ll meet either Samoa or New Zealand Day two, which is a challenge the guys are really looking forward to.”
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side will kick-off their Wellington campaign at 12:50pm (AEDT) time against Kenya before taking on Canada around 3:45pm (AEDT) and then France around 7:35pm (AEDT).
Fox Sports 3HD and 3 will show all the Finals action from Day 2 live on Saturday 4 February from 11:00am (AEDT).
** Denotes debut match for the Australian Sevens