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By ARU Media Unit
A hamstring injury to Qantas Men’s Sevens flyer Lewis Holland has opened the door for Australian Rugby Union National Academy player, Matt Lucas, to make his international Rugby Sevens debut.
The 20-year-old scrumhalf was called into the Qantas Men’s Sevens squad over the weekend to travel with the side to Hong Kong for sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
A former Australian Schoolboy, Australian Under-20 representative and the younger brother of St.George Queensland Reds utility back Ben Lucas, Matt was a late inclusion to the squad, after Coach Michael O’Connor had initially named Holland among the 12 bound for Hong Kong.
A hamstring complaint during a weekend training session forced O’Connor’s hand with the decision made that Holland would not join the squad on tour.
While the injury is disappointing for both player and coach, O’Connor said it provides Lucas with an opportunity to prove himself in the intense cauldron of the famed Hong Kong tournament.
“It’s certainly a good opportunity for Matt,” O’Connor said.
“Matt has played representative Rugby for Australia at the age-grade level and he has played some Sevens with his home club, Sunnybank.
“If he’s given an opportunity in Hong Kong, I hope he makes the most of it and I’m sure he will.”
Although not an ideal situation, O’Connor added it was better to have the injury present itself a week before the tournament, than during it.
“It would have happened this weekend, so it’s probably better that it happened before the tournament,” O’Connor said.
“This way it has given Matt a week with the team to prepare and learn our systems.
“Hopefully this time off will give Lewis time to heal up for the remaining tournaments.”
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side is currently ranked sixth in the HSBC Sevens World Series with Hong Kong, Tokyo, Glasgow and London left to play on the 2011-12 circuit.
The Hong Kong Sevens tournament runs March 23 to 25 and will feature two tournaments, one for the current 12 core teams and another acting as a qualifier for the 2012-2013 circuit. The second tournament will feature 12 sides with non-core status, with the Top 3 finishers earning core status for 2012-13.
It will also be held alongside the IRB sanctioned Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup, which will feature the third-ranked Qantas Women’s Sevens.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens side enters the Hong Kong leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series as the second seed in Pool C and will play just one game on Day 1, taking on France at approximately 10:45pm (AEDT) on 23 March.
Day 2 features their final two pool games, with clashes against Scotland at approximately 1:35pm (AEDT) and Fiji at 9:45pm (AEDT). Day 3 will feature the knockout stages of the tournament.
Fox Sports 2HD and 2 will show all the finals action from Day 3 live on Monday 25 March from around 4pm (AEDT).
Qantas Men’s Sevens Squad for Hong Kong:
Ed Jenkins (c)
Shannon Walker - Debut
Hong Kong Sevens Pools:
Australian Draw for Hong Kong Sevens:
March 23, 2012
Australia vs France
March 24, 2012
Australia vs Scotland
March 24, 2012
Australia vs Fiji