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By ARU Media Unit
Qantas Men’s Sevens coach, Michael O’Connor, has made one change to the squad that played in Wellington a week ago, after scrum half Lewis Holland was forced out of the side through injury.
As a result, 18-year-old Victorian, Allan Faalavaau, has been brought into to the side and will make his international Sevens debut for Australia, having already made appearances with the domestic Aussie Thunderbolts in the Hyperion Paradise Sevens on the Gold Coast in late 2011 and at the Hottest Sevens Tournament in Darwin in January.
The young Victorian will join, Tomas English and Cameron Clark, who debuted for the Qantas Men’s Sevens side last week in Wellington and with another young face being added to the squad, coach Michael O’Connor is happy to continue building selection depth.
Speaking from Las Vegas ahead of the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Michael O’Connor said Faalavaau had earned the call up through shear hard work.
“Allan played really well in the Gold Coast and Darwin tournaments, in fact he was one of the Thunderbolts better players, so he’s very worthy of a shot,” O’Connor said.
“We’re blooding a lot of young players this year and there’s nothing like experience to help development.
“You learn a lot from your losses. It’s just about getting these young guys used to the step up.”
A versatile back, Faalavaau is a product of the Australian Rugby Union’s National Gold program and represented the Australian Schoolboys against New Zealand last year.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side enters the Las Vegas leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series ranked seventh, following a loss to Kenya in the Bowl final in Wellington last weekend.
O’Connor said his side gained valuable experience last weekend and had focused on support play and defensive structures in the lead up to Las Vegas.
“I’m very confident we’ll be better this week,” O’Connor said.
“We played a lot of good footy last week, we just came unstuck, but our blokes will be better for the run.”
The Las Vegas tournament will be held over three days, starting with pool play Friday Las Vegas time, followed by quarter finals on Saturday and finals Sunday.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side have been drawn in Pool A along-side trans-Tasman rivals and Wellington Sevens winners New Zealand, Samoa and Japan.
Qantas Men’s Sevens captain, Ed Jenkins said it was important the team was switched on right from the start.
“You can’t take any game lightly in Sevens, so we are focussed on starting strongly,” Jenkins said.
“The guys are ready for this tournament, we’ve been training well and we’re ready for the challenge.”
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side will kick-off their Las Vegas campaign around 1:10pm Saturday (AEDT) against series leaders New Zealand before closing Day 1 with a game against Samoa around 4:30pm (AEDT). The side will wrap up pool play on Day 2, when they meet Japan around 7:40am Sunday (AEDT).
Fox Sports 3HD and 3 will show all the Finals action from Day 3 live on Monday 13 February from 4:30am (AEDT).
Qantas Men's Sevens Squad for Las Vegas
Qantas Australian Sevens player Shannon Walker will play his first tournament in over a year when he lines up for the National Indigenous side at this weekend’s National Sevens Championships in Narrabeen, Sydney.