Aussie Sevens' attention turns to Gold Coast
Having qualified for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 by winning the recent Oceania Sevens, Australia are now fully focused on their path to the tournament in Moscow.
By beating Samoa in the final at the North Sydney Oval, Michael O'Connor's side claimed one of two remaining places to represent Oceania in the Russian capital, joining automatically qualified New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, and Tonga who finished third.
The experience gained from the victory cannot be underestimated, nor can the fact that the Australians overcame defending champions and 2009/10 World Series winners Samoa in the final.
“I thought the team played really well,” O’Connor said.
“Playing the 20-minute final against Samoa gave the team serious game knowledge.
“Samoa is a tough side who bring a lot of physicality, skill and determination into every game.
“It was one of the most physical encounters I’ve seen in a while, but the team didn’t back down, they weren’t intimidated so it was very encouraging.”
But before Australia head to Russia, they will compete on the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series, which begins with a home tournament on the Gold Coast on 13-14 October.
O'Connor, who coached his side to the 2012 Tokyo Sevens title, is also preparing by taking his team to the Noosa International Sevens Festival the week before, and is looking for his side to build on their momentum and take a winning mentality into the Gold Coast.
“We’re building towards our home tournament so all our energy is now directed to the Gold Coast Sevens,” O’Connor said.
“To continue to build depth in our squad we’ll be preparing a development team for Noosa, which is the week before.
“Having the Oceania Sevens tournament under our belt is good as we’re trying to give ourselves the best opportunity for our home tournament."
In 2009, Australia had a disappointing RWC Sevens campaign, losing to Ireland and entering the Plate, but with qualification now secured, captain Ed Jenkins is hoping his side can win a first home tournament on the World Series since 2002.
“The Final against Samoa is something we can take home as a great positive,” Jenkins added.
“Knowing we can beat them is something that will give us confidence moving forward.
“It’s a work in progress and we know our new defensive system and our attack can both be improved.
“Now that we’ve qualified for the World Cup we’re setting our sights on the Gold Coast.
“Our minds are on the job already as we haven’t won a tournament on home soil since 2002.
“Travelling up as a squad to Noosa will be a good chance for some of the players to get a bit extra game time before the big one on the Gold Coast.
“Hopefully we’ll get a lot of support up on the Gold Coast and we can deliver our fans a tournament win and start the series on a high.”