Comeback just the start for Cusack

by Steve Stammers

Australian Sevens forward Tom Cusack has pinpointed the team's training camp in Darwin as his next target after making a successful return to action in the six-match series against the Australian Development side this week.

The 23-year-old Canberra powerhouse crossed for two tries in the final match of the series in his comeback from a five-month lay-off with a wrist injury sustained at the Sydney 7s.

Head Coach Andy Friend will name the 16 players he will take to the warm-weather camp next week and Cusack reiterated his determination to be in the mix for selection.

"My next target?" said Cusack.

"Be on the plane to Darwin. I’m looking no further than that at the moment. Then after that the 14, then the final 12. However, I've still got to improve on my fitness and last those 14 minutes in a game. I'll be working on conditioning as much as anything else.

"Andy has already indicated that it'll be pretty hard to break into the squad for Rio if we don’t make the training squad that will travel up to Darwin. As it showed through these games though, anyone can get injured at any time.

"It's tough coming back from injury but that's no excuse. You put your best foot forward but there's still much to work on. You're always in a better spot when you actually play some footy. To have those games under my belt and come through unscathed is very pleasing - as it was for someone like Nick Malouf.”

Though critical of his own match fitness, Cusack said he didn't have any issues with his wrist:

"It's perfect. No hesitation, no faults and I'm very comfortable with where it is at," he said.

The Australian national side won both games on Day Three (17-10 and 24-17) to complete a six-match sweep, but they were made to work hard by a fast-improving Development team looking to impress Sevens management at the Sydney Academy of Sport.

Friend said he took plenty from the games against the Development side with the returning players - Henry Speight aside - coming through with no reported problems.

"All of the players that returned were clearly more comfortable and when someone is coming back from injury then it's all about confidence.

“The obvious disappointment is Henry Speight. To lose him with a knee injury last night after looking so good is a blow to the squad but we all want to continue supporting him.”

However, the former Brumbies coach quickly focussed on the areas that need to be addressed in the coming weeks.

"For me, the biggest thing is to finish the opportunities we are creating. At the moment we're not doing that. We need to be more clinical. The other thing we also saw is with the players that were on the field for the full 14 minutes, there were fitness issues. So that's an area we'll look at closely in the coming week.

"Anyone who is on that plane to Rio will need to be able to compete for the full 14 minutes - or in the case of a potential Gold Medal Match - 20 minutes.

"The target for us is to hone our skill-set and continue to improve ourselves in the weeks ahead leading into Rio."

Cusack had sympathy for his team-mate Speight, who picked up a knee injury that will rule that five-cap Wallaby out of action for up to three months: "It's unfortunate to see Henry go down with injury but that's the nature of the sport.

"It does prove that regardless of whether we are in the squad for Darwin or not, every one of us has to be ready to step into the breach as injuries in this game can happen at any time."

Day one

Australia 40 Development 12

Australia 41 Development 0

Day two

Australia 25 Development 7

Australia 24 Development 5

Day three

Australia 17 Development 10

Australia 24 Development 17