Injury-hit Aussie men's sevens call on depth for Las Vegas

Mens - Las Vegas
by Iain Payten

Australian men’s sevens coach Tim Walsh will wrap Lachie Anderson in cotton wool after the young gun was ruled out of the upcoming Las Vegas sevens.

Anderson is one of three injured Aussie players who will miss round five of the World Series, along with playmakers Maurice Longbottom (hamstring) and Josh Coward (ankle).

Liam McNamara, Matthew Hood and Tom Connor have been recalled to the Australian squad.

After being one the staples of the men’s team for the last three years, Anderson, 21, has picked up a stress injury in his back and could miss up to four tournaments.

"It will put him out for the next two, and maybe the next four. It is a stress injury that we don’t want to get any worse,” Walsh said.

"We obviously have a big year this year, and next year. And he is a key component and if we do keep pushing it, it could keep getting worse and worse. 

"So for the welfare of the player and also for the best performance of the team and himself that we ice him a bit and pull him back.”

Walsh said while injuries were not ideal, he was confident the depth of the squad could cover for the missing men.

"Those guys are out but it opens up the door for other players,” Walsh said.

"Good to see Liam McNamara back in after injury and Matthew Hood. The way he has been training, and what he offers on and off the field, he has just been waiting for his opportunity.

"That’s the nature of contact sport but particularly this game. You have to have contingencies for injuries. You’ll never hear me making excuses around not having depth or not performing due to injuries.

"You have to plan for that and it gives guys opportunities. We have a strong squad in all different positions.”

McNamara hasn’t played for two rounds after picking a hamstring injury and Hood makes his return after winning three caps at the start of last season.

"I am definitely looking forward to it,” Hood said. 

"It’s been a while, I played my first 3 caps at the start of last season. 

"I had a year of injuries last year. Getting back into it I got a few tournaments under my belt, some domestic tournaments and that, and got some confidence so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.”

After another frustrating sixth-placed finish in Sydney, having almost beaten Fiji in their quarter-final, Walsh said the team was determined to piece together a consistently strong tournament in chilly Las Vegas.

"That’s the most frustrating thing. And that’s what we have been talking about and working out, why is there that gulf there. Is it preparation? Is it mental? Is it resilience?” Walsh said.

'It is frustrating but you look at it from a positive point of view in that we can play and compete and beat the top three teams. We just need to do it consistently. 

The Aussie men are keen to prove themselves in Fiji. Photo: Oceania Rugby"Other teams can’t get there … but we can. We just have to figure out we can be a six-game team and really own those moments.

"Those top three teams are getting further away, so these next two are pretty critical not only for the top four but to give us any chance to push us until the top three.”

Australia will face Wales, Scotland and Fiji in the battle for Pool D. 

Australia (47) currently sits in sixth place trailing England (55) and South Africa (57). Oceania region rivals Fiji (72) and New Zealand (76) sit in the top three with the USA (76) taking second position. 

TEAM

1.Nick Malouf (vc), University of Queensland, 32 caps  

2. Jesse Parahi (vc), Norths (Sydney), 41 caps  

3. Lewis Holland (c), Queanbeyan, 41 caps   

4. John Porch, Norths (Sydney), 21 caps  

5. Ben O’Donnell, Randwick, 13 caps   

6. Jeral Skelton, Brothers, 8 caps  

7. Simon Kennewell, Randwick, 13 caps   

8. Michael Wells, Norths (Sydney), 5 caps   

9. Liam McNamara, Sunnybank, 10 caps   

10. Henry Hutchison, Randwick, 20 caps   

11. Brandon Quinn, Gordon, 12 caps   

12. Matthew Hood, Sydney University, 3 caps  

13th Tom Connor, Warringah, 7 caps  

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