Three debutants for defending Tokyo champions

(IRB.COM) Thursday 28 March 2013
 
 Three debutants for defending Tokyo champions
Lewis Holland will be key to Australia's title defence in Tokyo

Defending Tokyo Sevens champions Australia have made three changes to their squad for the seventh round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Head coach Michael O'Connor will be without Sean McMahon, Shannon Walker and Ben Adams for their title defence but has replaced them with three debutants.

In 2012, Australia beat Samoa 28-26 in the Cup final, a side they face in Pool D this weekend along with England and Argentina. 

"Tokyo last year was really good for us," said captain Jesse Parahi. "A lot of hard work, but we have done that this year and we are looking for another win.

"It is such a buzz in Tokyo, it's a wonderful place, and obviously for us there is the added bonus of us winning it last year which just makes the guys even more pumped to be here."

Peter Schuster, Sam Figg and Paul Asquith all come into the squad having impressed O'Connor competing for their club sides during domestic Sevens tournaments earlier this year.

“It’s challenging but this is a great opportunity for these new guys,” O’Connor said.
 
“All three guys have been training with the squad. They’ve worked hard and they impressed me,”
 
“Hong Kong was quite a gruelling tournament and these guys are fresh, so that might be just what we need.”

Safety

Australia (ranked 11th) will face England (10th), Argentina (8th) and Samoa (3rd) in pool play in Tokyo, a pool which O’Connor knows will be a difficult task for his young side.

So far this season Australia are yet to beat England, have exchanged wins with Argentina, and have defeated Samoa in two of their four meetings but also recorded a victory against Faamoni Lalomilo's side in the final of the Oceania Sevens.

“England performed really well on the second day in Hong Kong and got some big wins against quality sides, they’re playing really well so that’s going to be a strong opening game,” added O’Connor.

“Argentina are a very gritty, structured side. Our games with them always come down to the wire. Samoa are always a threat and they weren’t far off the mark in Hong Kong.

While there is a target to defend their title this weekend in Tokyo for the Australians, those points would go a long way to securing their place as a core team for next season, as Parahi admits his side are not safe yet.

"We are certainly not safe, there are a few teams quite close to us so we are going for as many points as possible," added Parahi.

"Like always, going into second tournament it is all about mental toughness. The guys really have to pick themselves up after the week before and perform again."

Australia Seven squad for Tokyo: Tom Cusack, Jesse Parahi, Peter Schuster, Will Miller, Simon Morahan, Con Foley, Cam Clark, James Stannard, Sam Figg, Lewis Holland, Pama Fou, Paul Asquith