Sevens coach weighs up Olympic options

Coach Andy Friend has revealed he is yet to settle on more than half his Olympic squad as former Wallabies flyer Nick Cummins prepares to showcase his claims for the first time.

Making a belated bid for a ticket to Rio, Cummins, a 2010 Commonwealth Games representative, will make his 2016 World Series debut at this weekend’s prestigious Hong Kong Sevens after replacing the injured Henry Hutchison.

Cummins hasn’t played sevens rugby for almost six years, but Friend isn’t ruling the 15-Test winger from making Australia’s 12-man Olympic squad for the August Games.

Australia will also take two travelling emergencies to Brazil, but they won’t be able to stay in the athletes’ village and can only be called on to replace players who suffer tournament-ending injuries.

Friend took over from caretaker coach Scott Bowen after round three of the World Series in Wellington and admits he has a welcome selection dilemma trying to squeeze the likes of Cummins and fellow 15-a-side star Quade Cooper into his squad of established sevens specialists.

“At the end of every tournament, I write down what I think is my strongest 12 but that’s always changing,” Friend told AAP from Hong Kong.

“There’s probably five or six players who I see as certainties and another eight or so positions still up for grabs.”

As well as Hutchison, Friend will also be without Pama Fou, Nick Malouf, Tom Cusack, Tom Kingston and Greg Jeloudev in Hong Kong due to injury, while Cooper was not released by his French club Toulon.

The ARU is currently in talks with Toulon to secure Cooper’s release for one of the last two tournaments of the series in Paris and London.

Australia are bidding to make the semi-finals – at least – at four straight World Series events for the first time in 15 years, but haven’t won the Hong Kong Sevens since 1988.

“It’d be fantastic to win in Kong, a great milestone. I don’t think we’ve even made a final since 1994,” Friend said.

The three-day round kicks off on Friday with Australia drawn in Pool C alongside the USA, Argentina and Portugal.

Australia’s Hong Kong Sevens squad: Nick Cummins, Frank Winterstein, Sam Myers, Lewis Holland, James Stannard, Con Foley, Cameron Clark, Stephan Van Der Walt, Ed Jenkins, Allan Faalavaau, John Porch, Boyd Killingworth.

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