Aussies must lift defensively in Vancouver: Friend

Mens - Vancouver
by Sam Phillips

Australian Men's Sevens coach Andy Friend has demanded defensive improvement from his side as they look to bounce back onto the podium in Vancouver.

Friend is set to name the same 12 players that went into Las Vegas in Vancouver - an unprecedented move in Friend's tenure - but was still seeking a lift in defence in two separate areas.

"Number one was our nomination - our ability to stick to the system," Friend said.

"The second one was in our defence ruck accuracy where we dove into a few contests that we were never going to win and left ourselves short in the defensive line.

"We need to be better in that area and if we are then our system will shine through as it did in Sydney.

"We'll put teams under pressure."

While Friend was disappointed with the team's defensive work in Vancouver, the ability to name an unchanged 12 for the first time in his tenure as coach shapes as a major plus.

"Sevens is about the combinations and the same people understanding each other's play," Friend said.Dylan Pietsch is one of the Aussie Sevens young guns that will take great benefit from back-to-back tournaments. Photo: Cambridge"We had three new guys come into the team post Hamilton so for those guys to have played Vegas and to now double up into Vancouver, it's going to be a good thing."

Young players with just a handful of tournament caps to their name, such as Jeral Skelton, Tom Connor and Dylan Pietsch, will take great strides in putting back-to-back tournaments together.

"Every game they're getting better, you can see that," Friend said.

"The game of Sevens is a game you could only get better at if you play it and I'm pleased to have them on the circuit now and to be getting some minutes.

"We're seeing improvement with every minute they play."


Australian Men's Sevens fixtures in Vancouver (All times AEDT)

6:42am - vs Canada

10:14am - vs Uruguay

2:08pm - vs USA