Australia to face Sevens rivals Argentina
October 11, 2013
Shannon Walker will be hoping to be instrumental in Australia's match against Argentina in the pool round © Getty Images
Rugby sevens arch-rivals Argentina loom as Australia's biggest immediate hurdle in this weekend's season-opening tournament on the Gold Coast. To buck their history of starting slowly in the HSBC World Sevens Series, Australia will need to negotiate a pool including the Pumas as well as Samoa and Scotland at Skilled Park on Saturday.
Gold Coast Sevens Draw
In 41 World Series encounters between Australia and Argentina, it's the Pumas who hold the edge, having won 22 clashes to Australia's 19. Argentina also ended Australia's tournament on the Gold Coast last year, defeating coach Michael O'Connor's men in the plate semi-final 17-14.
"Argentina have been a bogey side for Australian sevens," O'Connor said. "You have a look at our record over the past decade or since the World Series started, they've marginally got more wins that what we have. They're very competitive when it comes to playing Australia at sevens - they're good at it."
Samoa are also no easy opponent for Australia, going into the tournament on a high after beating Pacific Island rivals Fiji in the Oceania Sevens Championship recently. O'Connor enters the tournament optimistic, believing he has the right amount of experience in his squad to ensure they hit the ground running.
"The last couple of years, we've lost players to Super 15. There's always a process of rebuilding," he said. "But now we've got sufficient numbers of players who have played sevens, I believe, really to start the season off well."
Adding to Australia's drive is their hunger to end a decade-long wait and finally win another tournament on home soil. "Every year we want to win our home tournament," O'Connor said. "We haven't done it for over a decade now ... I'd be lying if I said it wasn't something we'd love to do."
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'