New challenge for Aussie captain
Story and Photo: www.irbsevens.com
The first leg of the 2011/12 HSBC Sevens World Series sees a new destination for the circuit, the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens - Fever Pitch, to be played at Skilled Park.
There is also a new beginning for the hosts, Australia, as new captain Ed Jenkins will lead eight debutants onto the field in Pool B against South Africa, Japan and USA.
Jenkins, who replaces Bernard Foley for Michael O'Connor's side, is however under no illusions about the task ahead of him and his teammates.
"It is definitely a great honour having being named Australia Sevens captain for the first leg," said Jenkins.
"But I think it will be a tough one here as we have eight new debutants that haven't played IRB tournaments before so we are under no illusion it is going to be tough.
"In saying that we have retained a few players who have injuries and will be coming back into the squad later in the season, so we have the depth in our programme, but starting with eight new players it will be difficult."
The Skilled Park, home of NRL side Gold Coast Titans, will host the event on 25-26 November with Jenkins also believing a capacity crowd could prove decisive for Australia on home soil.
"The home crowd will help us out a lot, it is almost like playing with an extra man if the crowd get up and make a lot of noise for us I think it would be really beneficial.
"The stadium [Skilled Park] is right on top of you, and it has a capacity of 27,000, so if it can fill out it will be an electric atmosphere out there."
Australia finished sixth in the last year's Series, and achieved their best performance in the final tournament of the year as they finished runners-up in Edinburgh having lost 36-35 to Australia in the dying seconds of the Cup final.
Although Jenkins is not looking too far ahead with a repeat of that final in the final match of day one, he does have his own goals in mind for after the first three tournaments.
"It is early stages," explained Jenkins.
"There have been no previous tournaments and it is hard to gauge what the other teams have been up to so it is an even playing field going into the first leg.
"But I think we need to get off to a good start and be up there in the rankings in the first three tournaments, it will help us build our side and grow confidence. If we can get our combinations working that will take us a long way."