Fiji Smash Australia In Hong Kong Sevens Semi Final

April 11, 2016

NewsStandOnline.Net (11-April-2016): For all the progress the Thunderbolts have made this season, reaching the semi-finals in each of the last four World Series tournaments they have played, they are still searching for an elusive win.

Yesterday, they finished fourth at the HSBC Sevens in Hong Kong, thrashed 34-5 by Fiji in the semis then pipped 14-12 by South Africa in the third-place playoff, leaving coach Andy Friend unimpressed.

“Yes we are building, but we’ve got to start doing that (winning tournaments),” he said. “We can’t be happy with just making semi-finals. We really need to get to a win, it’s vital for our self-belief but time is running out.”

It’s been four years since Australia has won any leg of the Sevens World Series and 28 years since they have won in Hong Kong, when Michael Lynagh was captain and David Campese was goose-stepping his way over the tryline.

Fiji Smash Australia In Hong Kong Sevens Semi Final

Australia’s commitment to Sevens waned when rugby turned professional in the mid 1990s but with a squad of specialist players and the inclusion of the game on the Olympic programme, the excuses are running out. The will and resources to succeed are there, but not the results.

“We’ve got 25 contracted players and plenty of depth. But what we’re looking for now is in those real big moments, who’s gonna step up,” Friend said.

“The game’s all psychological. Physically, I think we’re in great shape, it’s just having that belief to execute when it really matters.”

Sevens has always been a fickle game, charming and frustrating its most loyal followers in equal doses. The difference between winning and losing is often decided as much by luck and the bounce of the ball than skill and careful planning.

That, and the spontaneous nature of the code, are enough to ensure Australia will go to Rio as a genuine contender to win the gold medal but Friend’s concerns about the team’s mental state are not without merit.