Sam Croke named to make Aussie 7s debut in Hamilton

Randwick backrower Sam Croke has been named to make his Australian Sevens debut at this weekend’s World Series tournament in Hamilton.

Andy Friend has made three changes to the side that won last weekend’s Sydney Sevens in emphatic style, with Lewis Holland and Boyd Killingworth both ruled out through injury and Jesse Parahi rested.

Warringah backrower Tom Connor retains his spot in the squad after making his debut in Sydney, while Croke’s Randwick teammate Dylan Pietsch has also earned a recall.

Australia, now ranked third in the world rankings, are in Pool A alongside Wales, Spain and Sevens World Series heavyweights Fiji.

“I was exceptionally proud of the performance in Sydney. We had marked it as a key tournament and all the boys aimed up and delivered on the big stage,” Friend said.

“Now it’s about backing that up, not just this week but on a consistent basis.

“It’s disappointing for Lewy, Boyd and Jesse to miss the Hamilton leg but it’s also a great opportunity for some of our new inclusions to stake their claim.

“Tom (Lucas) is one of our leaders and has been in the program for five years now. I have no doubt that he’ll rise to the occasion and take on more playmaking responsibility in the absence of Lewis.

“Sam (Croke) has been working really hard for his opportunity and I know he will seize this opportunity. We saw a bit of Dylan (Pietsch) last year – he’s another one of our young players with enormous potential. He has already shown that he can mix it on the World Series so I’m excited to see him get out there again,” Friend said.

Aussie 7s squad to play in Hamilton

1. Charlie Taylor, 8 caps, Manly NSW
2. Tom Connor, 1 cap, Warringah NSW
3. Sam Myers, 31 caps, Norths (Sydney)
4. Tom Lucas, 20 caps, Sunnybank QLD
5. James Stannard (c), 44 caps, Souths (Brisbane)
6. John Porch, 12 caps, Norths (Sydney)
7. Tim Anstee, 13 caps, Eastwood NSW
8. Sam Croke*, Randwick NSW
9. Dylan Pietsch, 5 caps, Randwick NSW
10. Ben O’Donnell, 3 caps, Randwick NSW
11. Maurice Longbottom, 3 caps, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team
12. Lachie Anderson, 10 caps, Eastwood NSW

13th man. Matt Hood, 2 caps, Sydney University NSW

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Fixtures, Hamilton
Saturday 3 February
Australia v Spain, 10.58am AEDT
Australia v Wales, 2.24pm AEDT
Australia v Fiji, 5.50pm AEDT

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