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Thread: James O'Connor offered lifeline after Australia lose Gold Coast Sevens

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    James O'Connor offered lifeline after Australia lose Gold Coast Sevens

    Jim Tucker
    The Courier-Mail
    October 14, 2013 9:05AM

    Coach Michael O'Connor on Sunday night offered his namesake a way back into national colours, the fluro yellow sevens variety, after a gallant young Aussie team threatened a giant-killing Gold Coast Sevens triumph.

    The Aussies led the world champion Kiwis 12-0 in the final despite being rattled by medicos ruling out aces Shannon Walker and Nick Malouf because of head knocks sustained in their semi-final thriller.

    Five nations had scored a single try between them against New Zealand before skipper Ed Jenkins and veteran James Stannard stunned the Kiwis twice inside five minutes to open the final at Robina's Skilled Park.

    Kiwi class and the undermanned Aussies running out of petrol after their pulsating 24-19 double extra-time victory over South Africa in the semi told as the defending HSBC Sevens World Series champs from NZ galloped home 40-19.

    Missing Walker's pace and sparkle was pivotal too. He came of age as a bona vide sevens weapon this weekend. A quick tap and wraparound try ignited the 24-12 quarter-final win over Kenya, the Africans who vanquished Australia a year ago.

    In the semi-final, a Walker fend and step produced a pure winger's try inside 40 seconds.

    Flanker Sean McMahon and big moments man Jenkins, player-of-the-tournament, were also weekend standouts.

    "One thing I'm proud of saying is that this team sure has some ticker," coach O'Connor said.

    "We held our nerve to beat South Africa in the semi with some big plays and we took it to the Kiwis to open the final with two of our starters sidelined.

    "The Aussies have been the youngest and least experienced on the world sevens circuit for the past three or four years and I hope this performance shows Australia what we are capable of in the future."

    A tie-breaking Jesse Parahi try to kill off South Africa was the highlight of his big-hitting weekend at Skilled Park where inexplicably there were 2000 fewer fans over the two days than last year. The festive 25,320 who were there made the din of twice that number.

    "James would have to be genuine about sevens and committed to the harder training but if he was I'd definitely like him on board. It can't be a publicity stunt," O'Connor said of the uncontracted Wallaby.

    "We have a close-knit team culture which he would have to conform to."

    A solid training block could have O'Connor primed for the Dubai Sevens (November 29-30).

    Rookie Junior Laloifi, just 19, was a big learner. The winger ignored unmarked Jenkins outside him when the South Africans could have been finished earlier but became "Senior" Laloifi when regrouping to throw the winning pass to Parahi.

    Parahi's five-pointer broke a pulsating 19-all deadlock in the Cup semi-final against South Africa with just over 70 seconds to play in the second five-minute extra time period.

    Both sides were exhausted and depleted with the Australians losing both try-scoring ace Shannon Walker and bloodied forward Nick Malouf to head knocks.

    It meant players like 19-year-old rookie Junior Laloifi and forward Paul Asquith, 20, having to step up in the clutch closing minutes for a wildly enthusiastic crowd at Robina's Skilled Park.

    Winger Laloifi bungled a perfect chance to put the South Africans to the sword in the first period of extra time when he ignored unmarked skipper Ed Jenkins outside him. He took on two defenders himself and was crashed to the ground deep inside the attacking quarter.

    The Australians commanded possession and showed greater authority in the collisions. With just over two minutes to play, the Aussies elected to take a drop-kick penalty goal attempt but Cam Clark miscued.

    It was left to a rousing surge through multiple sets of hands to get the ball to Laloifi in the closing seconds. He redeemed himself admirably by throwing the final pass to the powerful Parahi who shed a tackle before plunging over.

    Read more: http://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/au...#ixzz2hepMCUok

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    might find 7's a bit hard being a smoker

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    Great to see Stanners still getting a run, though!

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    Cracking weekend of sevens. That game against South Africa was amazing. I had to have a rest after watching that...

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    coz Stone Cold says so

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    Wouldn't O'Conner have to sign an ARU contract to play 7's for Australia? I thought the idea was to punish him for his indiscretions not reward him with jaunts around the world

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    'A solid training block could have O'Connor primed for the Dubai Sevens (November 29-30).'

    My experience of the Dubai Sevens would suggest the training consists of as much beer and pies as can be consumed.

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