John alters approach in bid improve Dubai record

by staff

Qantas Men’s Head Coach Geraint John has hatched a plan he hopes will arrest Australia’s poor past record at the Dubai Sevens.

Despite being the tournament most akin to Australian conditions – generally hot and dry – Dubai has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the national Men’s Sevens team having not reached a Cup Semi-Final in the United Arab Emirates since the 2002/03 series. The last two years have seen the side end their campaigns in the Bowl and Shield competitions.

John admitted the squad has discussed the record internally.

“Yes, it is something we have mentioned. In previous tournaments we have been camp-based, but we’ve a smoother process in place now that we are centralised. We’re going over to Dubai a little earlier than what we have in the past and we’ll even be staying in a different hotel to the one provided by the event organisers just to freshen it up a bit.

“My expectation is that we should be better and hopefully we can be in that last four which is everyone’s target now. Let’s even try and go and one step further than that.

About to take charge of his second World Rugby Sevens World Series event as Australian Head Coach, the Welshman has made three changes to his 12-man squad, with Greg Jeloudev, Allan Fa’alava’au and Alex Gibbon all drafted in – changes he believes will bring an extra x-factor to the Men’s Sevens outfit.

“We’ve gone for a slightly different balance squad compared to the Gold Coast. We have Alex Gibbon who is one of the quickest in the squad, Greg Jeloudev who has that speed, and Allan [Fa’alava’au] who brings something a little different with that step of his.

“However, it is also important to recognise that it’s not all about the seven that start. We take a squad of 12, we can make substitutions and if we do then I want those substitutes to make an impact. I’ve told the players that I want them to recognise that each and every one of them has a major role to play.”

Utility Nick Malouf, who is set to win his 14th cap in Dubai, cannot wait to pull on the gold jersey in Dubai.

“The team is really excited for Dubai. We’ve trained really well and we can’t wait to get out on the field and put in some good performances. We want to change the run we have had in Dubai in recent years but this year we really want to post something and do well in regards to the Cup competition.

“The US, Kenya and England all played well on the Gold Coast. Hopefully the homework we have done will pay off and we can execute the plans we have put in place.

“My aim personally is to get some good game time under my belt, and like anyone else I want to get some tries to my name!”