Australia Sevens coach Geraint John has named an extended 14-man squad for the Wellington tournament, with Shannon Walker returning.
Outside back Walker makes his long-awaited return to national Sevens duty after a twelve-month lay-off with a foot problem, while powerful forward Jesse Parahi returns to the squad after recovering from a hand injury that forced him to miss Dubai and Port Elizabeth. Greg Jeloudev, meanwhile, is back from injury.
Only long-term absentee Afa Pakalani (shoulder) is unavailable for the Wellington Sevens through injury.
“I’ve decided to take 14 players to Wellington to give us that little bit of flexibility. We’re fortunate being so close to New Zealand that we are able to do this,” said John.
“Shannon [Walker] has trained well since he returned to full training a couple of weeks ago – he is looking sharp. I’ve mentioned it before but he gives us that x-factor. However, we have to understand it may take a bit of time to get to the level of match fitness where we all want him to be.
“We set ourselves some lofty standards after our performances in Dubai and Port Elizabeth and it’s up to all of us – the squad and non-travellers – to make sure we continue to raise the bar for ourselves. We have a tough Pool, there’s no doubt about that.
“Fiji will be gunning for us after we managed to beat them in Dubai and South Africa. However, their squad looks very, very strong for Wellington and on their day they can blow any team anyway.
“That said, we have two tough pool games prior to Fiji. Wales nearly turned us over at the Commonwealth Games and if we’re not on our game early on we’ll be playing catch up. Wales have bought in some new players from the regions and look very strong. Portugal, meanwhile, played extremely well to defeat Gold Coast Cup Finalists Samoa last time out in Port Elizabeth. We played them in South Africa too in what was an extremely difficult game and they have some x-factor players.
“It should be a cracking tournament – the atmosphere is always electric in Wellington and I’m sure the fans will come out in their droves to support the event.”
Australian Sevens squad for the Wellington (two to be omitted): Cameron Clark, Tom Cusack, Allan Fa’alava’au, Con Foley, Pama Fou, Alex Gibbon, Lewis Holland, Greg Jeloudev, Ed Jenkins, Nick Malouf, Sam Myers, Jesse Parahi, James Stannard, Shannon Walker.