Preview: Sydney Sevens

Date published: February 5 2016

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Round four of the 2015/16 World Sevens Series takes place in Sydney this weekend, and there's plenty at stake for the 16 participating teams.

The Allianz Stadium is hosting the tournament after its move from the Gold Coast and both days have been sold-out for what promises to be an exciting leg of World Rugby's Sevens Series.

There have been three different champions in the three tournaments so far in Dubai (Fiji), Cape Town (South Africa) and Wellington (New Zealand), and all eyes will be on the Sydney tournament to see who finishes on top.

Earlier this week, all 16 captains gathered to officially launch the tournament at Luna Park, looking out over a stunning backdrop in front of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, and with only seven series events left before the teams head to the Olympic Games, a lot of talk was understandably on Rio.

Ed Jenkins, who returns to captain the Australia squad having become a father last week, said: "Going into the Olympics there are only seven tournaments left so you want to find some form soon. 

"The squad last week did a great job, so if we can look to build on that and get some momentum heading into Rio that's all we can ask from the guys this weekend.

"The competition is great in our squad, last week the guys did a great job, and now the whole intensity for the sessions with the guys coming in means we are all fighting for spots and on the whole it makes it a lot stronger. 

"We think having some of the bigger names coming in is great, it's building the profile of the sport so why not.

"It [becoming a dad] hasn't been too bad, but I am looking forward to staying in the hotel tonight and getting some proper shut eye and proper sleep before the tournament."

New Zealand's victory in Wellington moved them from seventh to third in the series standings and although captain Tim Mikkelson, who lifted the Cup in Wellington last week, and his side remained focused on Rio, he believes the series is a key part of that preparation. 

There's also the small matter of a match with Australia to finish day one.

"We can't wait for the weekend," said Mikkelson.

"The Gold Coast was good for the players, but hopefully this weekend we can go well in front of the sold-out crowd. There are a lot of Kiwis in Australia, and we play them (Australia) in the final match of the day so that should be quite tasty.

"They have a great mix in their squad, and I think they will go well this weekend. They are physical, competitive and have the big boys in the forwards and the pace and the skills in the middle. 

"We always find it hard playing them but I think they will go well and hopefully we can both go through from our pool.

"A lot of people are focused on the Olympics, but we really want to do well in the series. 

"It hurt being seventh heading into our home tournament, but we said we wanted to restart our season, and it is pleasing to move back up the order and we want to contuine to do well in the series."

South Africa lead the series with 54 points having made the last two finals ahead of Fiji (52) and New Zealand (47), and captain Philip Snyman said: "Unfortunately we lost in Wellington, but we left that there the minute we stepped on the plane and we've had some good sessions here. 

"The guys have good spirits, smiles are up and we are hoping for a good tournament in Sydney."

Pools

Pool A: New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Canada
Pool B: South Africa, Kenya, Scotland, Russia
Pool C: Fiji, Argentina, Samoa, France
Pool D: England, USA, Japan, Wales

Standings

1) South Africa – 54 points
2) Fiji – 52
3) New Zealand – 47
4) England – 41
5) Argentina – 41
6) USA – 39
7) Australia – 35
8) Kenya – 30
9) France – 28
10) Scotland – 22
11) Samoa – 21
12) Canada – 13
13) Wales – 11
14) Japan – 7
15) Russia – 5
16) Portugal – 3
17) Zimbabwe – 1

With thanks to the World Rugby Sevens website

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