Stannard expecting big things of Aussie Sevens rookies

by Sam Phillips

The way Sevens is played has changed quite a bit since James Stannard had his first taste of the code, back in 2010.

Speaking 24 hours before the Australian Men's Sevens side kick off their the 2017/18 World Series against Wales, Stannard recalled a very different style of play to what he expects from the Welsh.

"Every country is a bit different in the way they've changed," Stannard said.

"The sport I played back in 2010, compared to now, back then there was a lot of pull out sort of rugby - not much contact.

"Now there is a lot of contact and I think the game is evolving.Stannard has seen the game evolve over the past seven years. Photo: Karen Watson"Teams are adjusting to the way the game is evolving."

That means the Australians can't take Wales and Russia lightly - despite their preseason success - with a tough pool finale against Fiji the final task on Friday.

"Wales are always tough, they got us last year in the semi and as the years go on, there are no easy games anymore.

"Finishing the day with Fiji - the Olympic champions - we've got quite a tough pool."

As the team veteran, Stannard has welcomed the inclusion of rookies Maurice Longbottom and Ben O'Donnell - the pair shaping as two bright stars in the Aussie Sevens fold.

"They have fitted in really well," he said.Lachie Anderson is expecting big things from his side in 2018. Photo: Getty Images"Young guys like Maurice Longbottom have played a lot of exciting football over the last four tournaments and earned himself a spot and a debut for this World Series in Dubai.

"They're great assets to the team and I'm looking forward to seeing them play."

Lachie Anderson is quickly becoming one of the more integral parts of the Aussie Sevens unit and he said preseason success will count for nothing if the team don't push for the Cup in Dubai.

"We have had a bit of preseason success which gives us a lot of confidence first up but more importantly it gives us some good momentum coming into Dubai for the opening of the season," he said.

"The more frequently you can be playing footy, the better you are going to be as a team.

"We have had some success and we are excited about that but we are under no illusion that we have got to back that up this weekend in Dubai."

The Australian Men's Sevens kick off their Dubai Sevens campaign on Friday, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.


Australian Men's Sevens fixtures

Friday December 1

Australia v Wales, 4.44pm AEDT

Australia v Russia, 7.44pm AEDT

Saturday 2 December

Australia v Fiji, 2.06am AEDT