antas Men’s Sevens coach Michael O’Connor has again been forced to test the depth of Australia’s Sevens ranks, with injury impeding his selection options for Dubai, the second round of the Sevens World Series.
Just four players remain from the squad which played in the opening round of the World Series on the Gold Coast in October.
“It’s unprecedented to have 12 of your 22-man squad unavailable due to injury,” O’Connor said.
“It is a bit of a blow but we’ve gone well when faced with adversity in the past.
“We’re not walking around kicking tyres, the guys will step up because they have to.”
The Qantas Men’s Sevens will travel to Dubai considerably understrength, missing the experience and leadership of injured forwards Ed Jenkins and Jesse Parahi, along with exciting backs Allan Fa’alava’au, Shannon Walker, Jacob Taylor and Lewis Holland.
With so many players out of action, O’Connor has looked to his development ranks and beyond, handing the significant opportunity to represent Australia to several young players.
“We’re giving young guys an opportunity here,” O’Connor said.
“We’ve got five 19 year olds in this squad, but they’ve proven they can handle the Sevens environment.”
Con Foley will captain the squad which features four uncapped players, four members of the Gold Coast Sevens squad and one player returning from injury.
Sean McMahon, Pama Fou, Jordan Tuapou and Will Miller return to action following Gold Coast Sevens Fever Pitch, while regulars Greg Jeloudev and Damon Anderson will add another spark to the squad.
Cameron Clark makes his long-awaited return to the HSBC Sevens World Series after suffering an injury at the Las Vegas Sevens in February.
Laloifi Junior Laloifi, Peter Lee, Jack Grant and Nick Malouf are set to make their debut for Australia, after getting the nod from O’Connor.
Laloifi, a product of Melbourne, played Australia A Schools earlier this year and has earned valuable Sevens experience with Brisbane club Sunnybank, including a spot at the Coral Coast Sevens earlier this month.
Lee, another Sunnybank player, also played at Coral Coast Sevens and has been on O’Connor’s radar for some time.
North Sydney Colt Grant played Sevens in both Noosa and Byron Bay earlier this year, while University of Queensland’s Malouf missed out on likely selection for Gold Coast Sevens due to injury, but played in both Noosa and the Coral Coast Sevens.
The Dubai Sevens runs Friday 30 November and Saturday 1 December, with Australia seeded in Pool D alongside France, Canada and United States.
Day 2 of the tournament will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 2HD starting at 4pm on Saturday 1 December.