Tim Anstee is back for the Hong Kong Sevens. Pic: AAP
Tim Anstee is back for the Hong Kong Sevens. Pic: AAP

‘Pool of death’ a blessing for Aussies

BEING drawn in the 'pool of death' for next weekend's Hong Kong Sevens might be a blessing in disguise for Australia's struggling men's team, according to frustrated head coach Tim Walsh.

Australia have ended up in the same group as Fiji, New Zealand and Kenya for the biggest event on the annual world series calendar and on current form, they'll have their work cut out progressing to the quarter-finals.

But while they've been up and down this season and are languishing in sixth place on the standings, Australia have also shown fleeting moments of brilliance, so the tough draw might bring out their A game.

At least, that's the hope from Walsh.

"Sevens is about playing with consistency and winning key moments and we haven't done either of those terribly well which is why we are where we are," he said.

"But we want to test ourselves and play against the best so to have two of the best teams in the pool is certainly an opportunity."

Australia were cast into the tricky pool after missing the quarter-finals for the first time this season at the last round in Vancouver but will be boosted by the return of rising star Tim Anstee and playmaker Maurice Longbottom, who returns from a hamstring injury.

Maurice Longbottom will also return for the Aussies.
Maurice Longbottom will also return for the Aussies.

It has been 31 years since Australia last won the Hong Kong title and speedster Henry Hutchison said there was no better time than right now to end the drought.

"We've shown we can be a top three team throughout the season but we've also shown we can really fall of the pace so it's that inconsistency with the team and individual preparation that's letting us down," he said.

"We enjoy playing Fiji. We have a very clear game plan when we go out and play Fiji. We played them last in Vegas and got the wood on them.

"The kiwis have beaten us easily so far this year and it's itching at our skin, because we hate losing to the Kiwis."