Latest signings have Aussie coach in sevens heaven
THE Australian men's sevens team has taken shape for the next world series with coach Andy Friend re-signing seven players to take his contracted squad to 12.
The Australian Rugby Union announced on Friday that James Stannard, Jesse Parahi, John Porch, Sam Myers, Simon Kennewell, Liam McNamara and Ben O'Donnell have all put pen to paper.
Kennewell and McNamara have signed through until the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games while speedster John Porch has extended until the end of the 2020 season.
The experienced trio of Standard, Parahi and Myers will bolster Friend's side until the end of 2018 alongside exciting rookie O'Donnell.
Friend will be without star speedster Henry Hutchison, who has joined the Rebels, and Nick Malouf, who is now with Leicester Tigers.
"This is a huge coup for the sevens program, not only to hold onto some of the most exciting prospects in Australian rugby but also secure some older, more experienced heads too,” Friend said.
"This is on top of the five re-signings in June (Lachlan Anderson, Charlie Taylor, Boyd Killingworth, Dylan Pietsch and Tim Anstee), so to have 12 guys commit in just a couple of months shows we are building something very special.
"Everyone has their eyes set on the goals ahead, with the sevens world series coming up fast, before a home Commonwealth Games and sevens World Cup next year and then the Tokyo Games in 2020.
"There's still a few more spots in the squad up for grabs though and we'll continue to blood more players and give them opportunities in our pre-season tournaments as we grow our playing base.”
Australia finished sixth in the 2016-17 world series. The 2017-18 season kicks off in Dubai in December.