Australia relish assignment on Gold Coast
No pool is easy in the HSBC Sevens World Series, that much we know. And so it was with no sense of surprise that Australia's head coach Michael O'Connor and captain Ed Jenkins reacted to the fact that they face three tough matches on the first day of their home event, the Gold Coast Sevens, on 12 October.
Samoa, Argentina and Scotland all join O'Connor's side in Pool D on day one of the new season at Skilled Park, and the former dual code international is expecting fireworks.
"Argentina are coming off a very strong recent performance in Colombia at the World Games, where they finished a close second to South Africa," he said.
"Samoa have the best young home grown players in Samoa in their Sevens programme, and must be one of the favourites to win the title.
"And Scotland were one of the most improved sides last year, showing the benefit of an experienced player roster, combined with a full time centralised programme and they have had some significant wins over many of the top teams."
Both Samoa and Argentina, who finished fourth and tenth in last year's Series respectively, with Australia sandwiched in the middle in eighth, will head into the new season with a new coach, while braveheart Stephen Gemmell will lead the Scots.
"We come into this competition in the fourth group of seeds, so naturally the draw was always going to be difficult, but it’s a new season and Argentina and Samoa have new coaching staff so it’ll be tough to analyse them fully," admitted Gemmell, whose side beat all three opponents on the 2012/13 Series.
"As far as Australia is concerned, it’s their home tournament so they’ll come into this group with a lot of potential.
"We will research and look at all three of our opponents, but more importantly we will focus on executing our own game plan. The times that we have been successful, and unsuccessful for that matter, it has come down to the things we have done.”
WIth as many as seven of the 15 core sides boasting a new head coach the Gold Coast tournament is even more difficult to predict, but according to Australia's captain Ed Jenkins the Series will be just at competitive.
"It's hard to know where teams are currently with their pre season training so I guess our focus is solely on us at the moment and where we can improve our game," said Jenkins, who recovered from injury throughout last season.
"Gone are the days of having an easy pool, let alone an easy game. Over the years we have had some great battles with Samoa and there is no doubt that it will be a very physical encounter as usual. Argentina have been a side to knock us out in crucial games over the past few years so we will have to be at our best if we are to beat them in a month’s time."
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