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NZ are beatable, say Australian Sevens

Monday, June 23, 2014

Update: 7:02PM New Zealand are beatable.

That's the mantra for Australia's Rugby Sevens team, who will look to a nation left out of the Commonwealth Games draw for inspiration on how to finally topple the Kiwis for gold in Glasgow.

Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth has been partially lifted, but not in time for the Sevens powerhouse to join the tournament.

But that doesn't mean there won't be a Fijian flavour, with Australia's new coach Geraint John promising to borrow from their game plan in a bid to end New Zealand's stranglehold over the sport.

New Zealand have won four from four Commonwealth Games gold medals, and haven't lost a game in the tournament since Sevens was introduced in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur.

Their reign as the No.1 team on the IRB World Series stretches four years.

And the side taking the field in Glasgow will boast over 600 Sevens caps, with supercoach Gordon Tietjens at the helm and Tim Mikkelson the star and captain.

Australia, skippered by Ed Jenkins, will be lucky to boast a combined total of 100 appearances, and enter the competition at a transitional stage - having only moved into a fulltime, centralised training program in January.

Former Canada mentor John had to conduct his early training sessions via Skype from that country before arriving in late June.

He admits his primary focus needs to be on getting his young team ready for the qualification period, starting in October, for the inaugural Olympic tournament in Rio in 2016.

But nonetheless, the Delhi 2010 silver medallists, ranked fifth in the world, believe they can find the formula to beat the unbeatable in Glasgow.

Fiji had a 50-50 success rate against New Zealand last World Series, and John said Australia must take note and believe.

"I think there are certain tactics we can employ against them. What have Fiji done (right)? It's my job as coach and for the players to find weaknesses in their squad," John told AAP.

"There are certain things we can do tactically to cause them disruption and allow us to be in a situation to win.

"But we have to all buy-in.

"New Zealand have set the bar - but we have a great chance now we're centralised."

Australia are in Pool D alongside England, Sri Lanka and Uganda and would likely face Samoa or Wales at the quarter-final stage.

In the semis, they would likely have to get past world No.2 South Africa to earn the right to face New Zealand for gold at Ibrox Stadium.

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