Injury-hit Aussies look to Wellington

Injury-hit Aussies look to Wellington

Australia's preparations for the upcoming NZI Sevens have taken a hit, with some major injury conerns from this weekend's Hottest Sevens in Darwin. The Australians, playing as the Aussie Spirit, were without inspirational captain Patrick McCutcheon, who watched on from the stands with a groin strain, and when Shaun Foley broke his ankle and Brian Sefania was taken to hospital with a suspected foot fracture, the Spirit were reduced to nine fit players.

Australia's preparations for the upcoming NZI Sevens have taken a hit, with some major injury concerns from this weekend's Hottest Sevens in Darwin.

The Australians, playing as the Aussie Spirit, were without inspirational captain Patrick McCutcheon, who watched on from the stands with a groin strain, and when Shaun Foley broke his ankle and Brian Sefania was taken to hospital with a suspected foot fracture, the Spirit were reduced to nine fit players.

Australia were unbeaten on day 1 and continued their run on Sunday beating Fiji’s Coopers Bulla Boys 38-12. Yet they came unstuck against eventual runners-up ULR Samurai 29-10, in the top tier quarter-finals, in disappointing fashion

The Borneo Eagles, who the Spirit toppled 19-12 on Saturday, won the $65,000 prize money on offer after defeating ULR Samurai 36-21 in the final.

'Great experience'

Despite the injuries, Australian coach Michael O’Connor said the Darwin Sevens was a great experience for his side ahead of the next leg of the IRB Sevens World Series in Wellington on February 4-5.

“The standard of competition was really good, it’s the hardest Sevens tournament in Australia,” O’Connor said.

“The boys did really well yesterday; the Borneo Eagles were a well coached side made up of players from New Zealand’s provincial NPC competition.

“The Eagles were very good and they went on to win the tournament, they won the final quite convincingly - interestingly enough we were the only team to beat them.

“Today was disappointing, we were hit by injury, and in Sevens you’ve got to start well and in all of our games we struggled to do that.

“Our for-and-against was great but we took a long time to get into the games and we need to address that.

“The Samurai were red-hot in the quarter-finals and again, they’re a Kiwi-dominated side and were coming out of the national Sevens tournament - they were great players, so it was a good experience for our boys and we know where we’re at.

“We’re in the wars a bit injury-wise but overall we got a lot out of it going into the next two IRB events.

“Fortunately we’ve now got two weeks to prepare for Wellington.”

Nine current Australian-representative women’s rugby players were in the Top End playing for four different teams in the women’s draw.

Wallaroos vice captain Trisha Brown and national teammate Iliseva Batibasaga, representing Queensland, came up against World Cup winning Australian Sevens captain Cheryl Soon’s Amazons in the women’s final.

Queensland, who beat ACT 14-12 in the semi-final, claimed bragging rights when they ran out 24-5 victors in the decider to claim the Jabiru Trophy.