x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Australia will be unknown challenge

The Arabian Gulf's brains trust will have their work cut out researching their opening opposition after Australia named a squad consisting mostly of newcomers.

DUBAI // The Arabian Gulf's brains trust will have their work cut out researching their opening opposition for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, after Australia named a squad consisting mostly of newcomers. The Australia Sevens coach Michael O'Connor has named 10 new faces in his 18-man squad to compete in this season's World Series. Australia's sevens sides have never been as successful as their 15-a-side colleagues, yet the format has still proved to be a fertile breeding ground for talent.

When Luke Morahan was called into the Wallabies squad for their European tour last week, he became the third member to emerge from the Sevens circuit in the past 12 months.The uncapped scrum-half Richard Kingi was already a surprise call-up to Robbie Deans' squad, while James O'Connor also cut his teeth in the shortened version of the game. Even though the Gulf probably have as many players with international experience as their counterparts, the coach, Shane Thornton, is in little doubt about the size of the task facing his players.

"We will be playing the Aussies in the first game and we know they have got a lot of newcomers but they will be a great challenge for us," said Thornton, the 35-year-old coach who only arrived in the UAE three months ago. The Gulf captain Sean Hurley will be playing against his homeland when he lines up against Australia. Hurley added: "When I first saw the pool I thought it was fantastic. We have the world champions, the world series winners and something very close to my heart, Australia. It will be a great challenge."

@Email:pradley@thenational.ae