Australian sevens players Ben O’Donnell and Maurice Longbottom.
Australian sevens players Ben O’Donnell and Maurice Longbottom.

Crunch time in New Zealand for Aussie sevens men

WHILE Tim Walsh would love to see his Australian men's sevens team win the close games more often, the coach would rather they avoid that scenario altogether in New Zealand this weekend.

Australia have played 11 matches in the current world series, five of which have been decided on the last play.

They have only won two of those, with the three gut wrenching losses the reason they sit sixth after two rounds.

"You won't win them all but you need to put yourself in a position where that can't happen as often," Walsh said.

Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh talks to the media.
Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh talks to the media.

"We've won two of five of those this year and that's probably indicative of where the team's been at in the last five years.

"It's a fine line... but that's why we love it."

The men play in Hamilton this weekend, where they finished third last year, before returning to Sydney to defend their title.

Teams that finish the series in the top four earn automatic entry to the 2020 Olympics in Toyko and Walsh knows this fortnight will be crucial in that endeavour.

Lachlan Anderson of Australia scores a try during the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Lachlan Anderson of Australia scores a try during the World Rugby Sevens Series.

"After four rounds you really need to be on the good side of that top four," Walsh said.

"It's still early days but I foresee that top four race to come down to the last round, in an Olympic qualifying year every point will be fiercely fought."

Defence from restarts and tackling technique in general has cost them so far but the return of Simon Kennewell from a knee injury to a full strength squad should help remedy that in Saturday's pool games against Argentina, Wales and Fiji.

Australia squad: Nick Malouf, Lachlan Anderson, Henry Hutchison, Simon Kennewell, Jeral Skelton, Sam Myers, Josh Coward, Maurice Longbottom, Lewis Holland, Ben O'Donnell, John Porch, Brandon Quinn. 13th man: Michael Wells

Australia pool fixtures (all Saturday AEDT)

v Argentina, 9.30am

v Wales, 1.20pm

v Fiji, 5.52pm

News Corp Australia

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