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Australia to tackle Sevens' best

13 Feb 06 05:54
 

Australian winger Lote Tuqiri has sealed a spot in the Rugby 7's at the Commonwealth Games.

Four Wallabies players will boost Australia’s chances for a medal in the tough Rugby Sevens field at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The injection of Wallaby stars Lote Tuqiri, Matt Giteau, Scott Fava and Chris Latham will give Australia the added pace and power they need to compete against the world’s number one team Fiji and defending Commonwealth champions New Zealand.

Australian Coach Glen Ella said the inclusion of the Wallaby stars would not only boost the team, but would also help lift the crowd.

“Sevens is a high-speed game that can turn on a bounce of the ball, so there is no question that guys like Tuqiri, Fava, Latham and Giteau are well suited to it,” he said.

“Having some big name Wallabies in the team will also help attract the fans. It is really important for our team that the Telstra Dome is packed to capacity with supporters all decked out in gold. It would definitely give us a lift.”

The four Wallabies join five regular Australian Sevens players Shawn Mackay, Joshua Gamgee, Luke Inman, Damon Murphy and Nick Reily who have been selected after their standout performances for Australia on the IRB Sevens circuit over the last 12 months.

Also named in the team are Melbourne-born flanker Tom McVerry who has played 20 Super Rugby matches for the Queensland Reds and former NSW Waratah and now Western Force fullback Cameron Shepherd. The final member will be pocket-sized flyer Brendan Williams, who has returned from Italian club Benetton to play in his second Commonwealth Games.

“We are thrilled that the rugby seven’s squad contains some of the biggest names in Australian rugby. Their experience and skills will certainly assist in what will be a challenging tournament,” Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO, Perry Crosswhite said.

“The competition will be fierce with the majority of the teams competing ranked among the world’s best. We were out of the medals in Manchester, however Glen Ella has put together a very competitive team and their preparation has been excellent.”

The four Wallabies in the team all have international Sevens experience, with Tuqiri, Latham and Fava playing together at the Brisbane Sevens in 2003, while Giteau played for Australia in seven IRB Sevens tournaments in the 2002 series.

Ella also thanked the four Australian Super 14 coaches for making players available for the Commonwealth Games after a crucial agreement aimed at making a concerted challenge in a Commonwealth field which contains the top four teams in the world, and a depth of talent extending right to the bottom of the pools.

“The Commonwealth Games falls in the middle of the Super 14 tournament, but the four coaches have been really understanding in allowing us to select their star players,” he said. “It is only with their cooperation that we are able to put the best possible Australian Sevens team on the paddock in Melbourne.”

The Australian squad includes: Scott Fava, Josh Gamgee, Matt Giteau, Chris Latham, Luke Inman, Shawn Mackay, Tom McVerry, Damon Murphy, Nick Reily Cameron Shepherd, Lote Tuqiri and Brendan Williams.

Australia has been drawn in the same pool as England, Cook Islands and Sri Lanka to take to the field in the lightning-paced cousin of the “game they play in heaven”, which will wrap up in four thrilling sessions of play at Telstra Dome on 16 and 17 March.

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