Defence the catalyst for breakthrough Aussie 7s win according to Friend
Australian Men’s Sevens coach Andy Friend believes his side’s belief in their defensive system was the catalyst for a breakthrough World Series Sevens victory in Sydney over the weekend, the side’s first on home soil since 2002.
After topping their pool with three wins over USA, Canada and Scotland, Australia defeated rivals New Zealand and an in form Argentinian side to book a spot in the final against South Africa.
Looking for their first World Series tournament victory since 2012, the home side produced their best performance in recent memory, scoring five unanswered tries to claim a 29-0 victory over the Blitzboks in front of a vocal Australian crowd.
“We’ve got quite an aggressive defensive system and throughout the course of the weekend on occasions we haven’t believed in it. We showed a couple of clips this morning and just said, ‘Listen, do we really believe in this?’ and the boys were like, ‘Yeah, actually we do’,” Friend said after the victory.
“I said, ‘well if we believe let’s do it.’
“We committed to doing it and honestly from that minute on, it was just a different team.
“We train it but it’s one thing doing it at training, and one thing doing it out here and they believed in that and to me that was the difference.”
The Australian Men’s squad has lived in the shadows of their Olympic champion female counterparts in recent years, but Friend believes the victory will give his side the belief it needed going forward ahead of this year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and Sevens World Cup in San Fransisco.
“For them to now turn up and to do that on a World Series and in the process to knock off New Zealand and South Africa in the same tournament must give them belief, and I know it has given them belief,” Friend said.
Australia cross the Tasman on Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s Hamilton Sevens. They face Fiji, Wales and Spain in their pool matches.