Sevens trio unscathed

by Steve Stammers

Henry Speight, Nick Malouf and Tom Cusack all made successful returns to the Sevens field as the Australian national side beat an Australian Development team 40-12 and 41-0 on Monday.

Malouf scored the first try of the day in his comeback from back-to-back knee injuries and came through unscathed in his seven-minute run-out.

Australian Sevens Coach Andy Friend rested the Queenslander for Game Two and said afterwards that he plans to use Malouf for the full 14 minutes in the opening game of Tuesday's double-header.

Speight (cheekbone) and Cusack (wrist) both played full games in Game Two.

Sporting protective headgear Speight was in imperious form as he created one try via a turnover, scored twice and offloaded for another try late on in the 41-point win.

Friend also reserved praise for Cusack for his aggression up front and overall leadership of the team in the second game of the day.

Speight, who played in two World Series tournaments last season said he was excited to be in the thick of the action again.

“It’s been just over 10 weeks now but it’s great to be back on the park and playing footy with the boys once again. I think the plan for me is to play another full game tomorrow and then see how everyone pulls up come Wednesday," he said. 

“I’d also like to say thanks to the medical and conditioning staff for getting some of the boys like Nick Malouf, Tom Cusack and myself back out there. It’s been a while now but it’s good to get back up and running.”

Henry Speight hasn't played since Sydney. Photo: Getty ImagesFriend said the opening match would give the trio more belief heading into the final games later in the week.

“The most pleasing thing for me was the players coming back from long-term injuries all coming through and getting game time. Nick [Malouf] is probably the one who we need to build up confidence the most coming back from a long-term ACL injury but he did well to come through. He made some strong carries, good tackles and he’ll wake up tomorrow feeling a lot more confident".

“I thought Tom [Cusack] was very impressive in that second game the way he led the team around the park through his play. Henry [Speight] did some things out there that only special players can do.

"You can see he’s a quality footballer – he’s got speed, he’s got power – we need to work on his conditioning a bit. But that run-out was great for his confidence particularly with the injury being one to the face.”

Despite the twin defeats Australian Development coach Hugh Carpenter took plenty from the games.

“The boys will take a lot out of today. I was excited by the way we started that first game but perhaps we were a little overawed in that second game. We had some real youth in that second game and perhaps it showed at times," he said.

“Josh Coward and Moses Sorovi were impressive today. Tom Connor is a tough character and Connor Mitchell was up for the challenge. It’s a new day tomorrow and we’ll be back giving our best again.”

The six-match series between the Australian national side and the Australian Development team continues tomorrow with two games at 2.30pm AEST and 7pm AEST.

Australia 40 Development 12

Australia 41 Development 0

Match Timings (Day 2 and Day 3)

Tuesday 14 June: Game 3 - 2.30pm; Game 4 – 7.00pm

Wednesday 15 June: Game 5 – 10.00am; Game 6 - 1.30pm