TEAM NEWS: Aussie men include two new faces for Oceania Olympic qualifier

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Aussie men's Sevens will field two international debutants in this weekend's Oceania Sevens as they vie to seal an Olympic qualification spot.

Rebels speedster Jack Maddocks and Manly's Josh Turner have been named in the 12-man squad for the Olympic qualifier, the only uncapped players in the group.

Maddocks has been with the group for three months while Turner, a former New Zealand U19s captain, signed in 2018 but has yet to be included in a squad until now.

Australia has kept eight players from the final World Series round in Paris in the Oceania squad, with Nick Malouf and Tom Cusack the additions to he 12-man squad and Jesse Parahi named 13th man.

The winner of this weekend's tournament will secure Olympic qualification, eight months out from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Tonga and Samoa shape as Australia's biggest rivals for the title in Suva and both will be dangerous opponents when the competition kicks off on Thursday.

The Aussie men lost to Samoa twice in the 2018-19 World Series while Tonga is expected to field a number of capped Test players in their lineup in a bid to repatriate them for international duties.

Lachlan Anderson in action for the Aussie Sevens during the 2018-19 World Series. Photo: Getty ImagesAustralia will face Vanuatu, Nauru, American Samoa and Tonga in their pool at the tournament, with the winner to play off against Fiji in an exhibition game.

If the Aussies fail to nab qualification in Fiji, they would go into a last-gasp repechage tournament in June next year, just shy of the Tokyo Olympics in July.

It's a situation not entirely unfamiliar for some of the squad - Henry Hutchison, Jesse Parahi and Lewis Holland all featured in the 2015 qualifier where Australia won Rio qualification while Nick Malouf was injured but in the wider group at that time.

Tim Walsh was the caretaker coach back in 2015 and has now been in the permanent position for the past 18 months.

Walsh said his team was ready to roll in the first tournament of the new season.

“The team has had a really good pre-season and we have prepared really well for the Oceania Sevens," he said.

“Every team competing is aiming to join the Olympic Games and we expect Tonga and Samoa to be the biggest barriers for us achieving that goal.

“Jack (Maddocks) has worked really well with the squad and progressed well in Sevens and we’re looking forward to seeing him in action.”

The Oceania Sevens kicks off on Thursday November 7, with Australia's first match at 11:06am AEDT, LIVE on the Oceania Rugby Facebook page.

TEAM

Australian Men's Sevens for Oceania Sevens

1. Nick Malouf, University of Queensland, 35 caps 

2. Lachlan Anderson, Eastwood, 22 caps

3. Joe Pincus, Easts (Sydney), 6 caps 

4. Tom Cusack, Royals, Brumbies ,10 caps 

5. Simon Kennewell, Randwick, 19 caps 

6. Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, 15 caps

7. Josh Coward, 5 caps, Souths (Melbourne) 

8. Josh Turner*, Manly

9. Lewis Holland (c), Queanbeyan, 47 caps

10. Ben O’Donnell, Randwick 18 caps 

11. Jack Maddocks**, Easts, Melbourne Rebels 

12. Henry Hutchison, Randwick, 26 caps 

13th Jesse Parahi, 44 caps

*Denotes Uncapped

**Uncapped for Australian Sevens, seven Test caps for Wallabies

SCHEDULE

All times AEDT.

Thursday November 7. 

11:06am - Australia vs Vanuatu

4:58pm - Australia vs Nauru

Friday November 8

12:34pm - Australia vs American Samoa

4:58pm  - Australia vs Tonga

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