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By IRB Media Unit
Australia Mens' Sevens' star Lewis Holland believes his side's preparation has been "spot on" leading into this weekend's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.
Speaking on the eve of the men's tournament at the Luzhniki Stadium training complex, Holland believes their training in Brisbane could play a pivotal role when the teams run out with temperatures expected to be in the mid-thirties over the weekend.
"We looked at the forecast but we didn't expect it to be this hot," said Holland. "Heading into the weekend it will be certainly be a hot one according to the forecast.
"But we had a good lead in to the World Cup based in Brisbane for four weeks in hot environments, which is what we are used to and that could play into our hands here in Moscow, so hopefully we will go well.
"Preparation has been spot on, our training is improving here too and I think we have a good chance to mix it up with the bigger teams.
"It is a great venue and the pitch is outstanding, it looks magnificent. I think it will be a good experience, there is a vibe around Sevens and with the World Cup it will go up another level as well."
Australia could look to their women's side for inspiration, as they were crowned champions of the inaugural Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens four years ago.
Super Rugby experience
And Michael O'Connor's squad is an exciting one, featuring three current Super Rugby players, four members of Australia’s 2010 silver medal-winning Commonwealth Games side and two players from the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 side that could also make them a threat this weekend.
From the Super Rugby ranks are NSW Waratahs fly half Bernard Foley and scrum half Matt Lucas and Queensland Reds wing Luke Morahan who have all played against the 2013 British & Irish Lions.
All three also have prior Sevens experience as Foley captained the Commonwealth Games side in 2010 and scored 266 points in his 16 tournaments for Australia, while Morahan was a member of Australia’s 2009 World Cup efforts and was also in the 2010 Commonwealth Games side and Lucas kicked the crucial conversion in his side's Cup win over Samoa in last year's Tokyo Sevens.
The squad features ample other experience, including Sevens scoring phenomenon James Stannard, who has scored 478 points in just 12 appearances for Australia, and captain Ed Jenkins who was part of both the 2009 World Cup squad and the 2010 Commonwealth Games success.
But Australia has limited recent experience against its opponents in Pool A, and O’Connor is wary of the challenge presented by all three, especially in the added pressure of a World Cup.
“They’ll all be very well prepared, as will we, and it’s a huge occasion, so we are not underestimating anyone,” O’Connor said. “All of these teams are capable of beating top teams and they have in the past.”
Spain and Australia met twice on the World Series last season, trading results with the Europeans claiming a 24-14 win in Las Vegas and Australia defeating them 42-14 in Glasgow.
Australia and France have also traded results, with two wins each last season. France won the first two encounters, 7-0 in Dubai and 31-5 in South Africa. Australia claimed the most recent wins, 31-7 in Tokyo and 35-12 in London.
Australia and Tunisia have not met recently, as the African nation is not a regular on the World Series. Their last encounter was in a Bowl quarter-final in South Africa in 2008, which Australia won 33-21.
Australia finished the Sevens World Series ranked eighth overall, highest in their World Cup pool, followed by France in ninth and Spain in 15th. Tunisia did not compete in any event on the World Series last season.
All matches from the Luzhniki Stadium will be streamed LIVE on rwcsevens.com
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.