Big blows for champion sevens squad
RUGBY UNION: Instead of basking in the afterglow of their breakthrough Sydney Sevens win, Australia's men's side has been snapped back to reality with the loss of three key players for this weekend's World Series leg in Hamilton.
Inspirational captain Lewis Holland is out with a cork, forward Boyd Killingworth misses with a hamstring injury while coach Andy Friend has opted to rest breakdown specialist Jesse Parahi after a heavy workload.
Veteran James Stannard will captain the side in the absence of Holland while the ins are Tom Lucas, Sam Croke and Dylan Pietsch.
It will be Croke's World Series debut as Australia prepares for Saturday pool games against Spain, Wales and Fiji.
"I was exceptionally proud of the performance in Sydney,” Friend said, reflecting on Australia snapping a six-year title drought on the sevens circuit.
"We had marked it as a key tournament and all the boys aimed up and delivered on the big stage.
"Now it's about backing that up, not just this week but on a consistent basis.
"It's disappointing for Lewy, Boyd and Jesse to miss the Hamilton leg but it's also a great opportunity for some of our new inclusions to stake their claim.
"Tom is one of our leaders and has been in the program for five years now.
"I have no doubt that he'll rise to the occasion and take on more playmaking responsibility in the absence of Lewis.
"Sam has been working really hard for his opportunity and I know he will seize this opportunity.
"We saw a bit of Dylan last year, he's another one of our young players with enormous potential.
"He has already shown that he can mix it on the World Series so I'm excited to see him get out there again.”
AUSTRALIAN MEN'S SEVENS SQUAD
1. Charlie Taylor, 8 caps, Manly NSW
2. Tom Connor, 1 cap, Warringah NSW
3. Sam Myers, 31 caps, Norths (Sydney)
4. Tom Lucas, 20 caps, Sunnybank QLD
5. James Stannard (c), 44 caps, Souths (Brisbane)
6. John Porch, 12 caps, Norths (Sydney)
7. Tim Anstee, 13 caps, Eastwood NSW
8. Sam Croke, Randwick NSW
9. Dylan Pietsch, 5 caps, Randwick NSW
10. Ben O'Donnell, 3 caps, Randwick NSW
11. Maurice Longbottom, 3 caps, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team
12. Lachie Anderson, 10 caps, Eastwood NSW
13th man. Matt Hood, 2 caps, Sydney University NSW
SATURDAY SCHEDULE (all times AEST): Australia v Spain, 9.58am; Australia v Wales, 1.24pm; Australia v Fiji, 4.50pm