Mountain to climb for Aussie Sevens redemption

Tue, 20/12/2016, 12:22 am
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman

Men’s Sevens coach Andy Friend admits it will be an uphill battle for his side to claw its way back into the World Series’s top echelon after a disappointing Cape Town result.

Australia sits seventh in the rankings now, with their failure to qualify for a quarter-final in South Africa pitting them against South Africa, Fiji and Japan in Wellington next month.

South Africa is currently on top, with 41 points from the opening two tournaments, having made two cup finals from the opening two tournaments.

Friend said Australia’s result in Cape Town was a learning curve for the newer members of the Sevens team, who played in consecutive World Series tournaments for the first time.

“At the end of the day, I was pleased (after Dubai) but then we went to Cape Town and that's when the young blokes start to work out what a World Series is all about - you've got to be able to back up and do it again,” he said.

“Our target this year is to make quarter-finals every tournament. We did it in the first, missed out in the second.

“Realistically, can we finish fourth or better? It's going to be tough just given the transition we've got with the players.

“However, we'll do our best to do that but if we're making quarter-finals, I'm happy with that and ideally we want to end up in the semis and finals as well.”

Australia made the final of the inaugural Sydney Sevens last year, losing out to New Zealand in a thrilling finale, but they’ll need to topple their heavyweight pool opponents in Wellington to put themselves in with a chance for a strong seeding on home soil, Friend said.

“That's going to be a tremendous event here,” he said.

“Given that we've finished out of the quarter-finals now, though, we've put ourselves in the third tier so our opponents in Wellington are South Africa, Fiji and Japan. So, we've got a very tough pool.

“We've got to work really hard now to get out of that, to get back into the top two tiers and then you give yourself a fighting chance.”

The Sydney Sevens kicks off on February 3, running until February 5, 2017. Buy tickets here.

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