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By ARU Media Unit
Qantas Wallabies 2012 squad member Luke Morahan will make a return to Rugby Sevens this weekend after a two-year absence from the new Olympic sport.
Morahan, a member of the 2011 Super Rugby-winning St.George Queensland Reds, was named in the Qantas Men’s Sevens squad of 12 for the Oceania Sevens Championships at North Sydney Oval this weekend.
While admitting to some nerves ahead of his Rugby Sevens return, Morahan said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played Sevens, but I’m very excited and a little nervous,” Morahan said.
“I really enjoyed the time I had in Sevens. I love the game, it’s great fun, so when the selectors came knocking it wasn’t hard for them to convince me to prepare for this tournament.
“Qualifying for the World Cup is a top priority, it’s not going to be easy but the guys are up for it.
“This team won in Japan earlier this year so they know what it takes to win when it really counts.”
The Oceania Sevens Championships runs 25-26 August and will see the Qantas Men’s Sevens look to secure a place at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 with two qualifying spots up for grabs.
With New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa already qualified, only two places from Oceania remain up for grabs.
Morahan has thrice been named in Qantas Wallabies touring squads, in 2009, 2010 and 2012, but developed his knack for attacking Rugby as an Australian Sevens player.
The 22-year-old spent two seasons with the Australian Sevens in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, scoring 27 tries in his first season, making him Australia’s leading try scorer and fourth overall on the IRB circuit that year.
He was also a member of the Australian Sevens 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens squad and 2010 Commonwealth Games squad which won silver.
Qantas Men’s Sevens coach Michael O’Connor said the side had prepared well in the lead up and was excited to be playing at home.
“There’s a good vibe in the side and good competition for positions, so preparation has been good,” O’Connor said.
“A lot of the squad are from Sydney and we’ve been staying at Manly so there’s been a big build up and everyone is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd.”
The squad will be led by Captain Ed Jenkins, who was also a member of the 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning side.
The bulk of the squad selected for the Oceania Sevens Championships carries over from the last round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, with Jesse Parahi, Jordan Tuapou, Con Foley, Allan Faalavaau, Jenkins and Matt Lucas being selected.
The squad will also feature the return from injury of stars Dan Yakopo and Pama Fou, who last played in the Tokyo and Las Vegas rounds of the world series respectively.
Making his debut for the Qantas Men’s Sevens will be former New Zealand Sevens training-squad member Matthew Blain, a loose forward currently plying his trade with Premier grade club side GPS of Brisbane.
Rounding out the squad are Will Miller and Jacob Taylor, who last featured for Australia in an exhibition against New Zealand at Allianz Stadium as a curtain raiser to the HSBC Waratahs v Crusaders match.
Since the conclusion of the 2012 London Olympics a little over a week ago Rugby Sevens can now officially count itself as a member of the Olympic family.
Scheduled to make it’s Olympic Games debut in Rio in 2016, following the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Morahan said the temptation to return to the Sevens fold was certainly there.
“It’s certainly exciting to be involved with Sevens at the moment,” Morahan said.
“With the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Olympics in the future there is certainly something very enticing about Rugby Sevens.”
With the 2016 Olympic Games four years away the Qantas Men’s Sevens will have their focus on the more immediate task of qualifying for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 with a strong performance this weekend.
The Australians will meet Solomon Islands, American Samoa and Tonga in pool play, while Pool B features Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Tahiti.
Day 1 of the Oceania Sevens Championships will see the Qantas Men’s Sevens take on Solomon Islands at 12:06pm, before meeting American Samoa at 1:43pm and Tonga at 3:20pm.
Day 2 features playoff action, kicking off at 11am and wrapping up with the Championship match at 3:20pm.
Tickets to the Oceania Sevens Championships are just $15 for adults and $5 for children and from www.proticket.com.au or at the gate on the day.
See what Qantas Men's Sevens Captain, Ed Jenkins had to say about the preparations for this weekend's tournament.
Qantas Men’s Sevens side for Oceania Sevens Championships
Qantas Australian Rugby Sevens stars Emilee Cherry and Cameron Clark have been rewarded for their stellar performances throughout their respective 2013/14 seasons after picking up three awards between them at the 2014 John Eales Medal in Sydney.