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Friend tells Aussie 7s men to chill

He has talked up the need for Sydney 7s success all season, but on tournament eve Australian men’s rugby coach Andy Friend says it’s time to chill.

Chasing their first World Series title since 2012, Australia will lean on their final and semi-final appearances in the last two years as evidence that a breakthrough is within reach.

And while Friend says the need for success is very real, he doesn’t want his side to get caught up in the pursuit and miss out on all the fun.

“The theme of the week is to chill, just relax and trust what we’re doing,” the coach said.

“It’s not about adding more pressure to the boys. It’s about letting them enjoy the moment, back their skills, back their ability and get soaked up in the whole vibe of Sydney and what the crowd’s doing for them and do the best they can do.”

Australia sit sixth after two World Series rounds in Dubai and Durban, with April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and a World Cup in San Francisco later this year the two other big targets aside from Sydney.

Keen to continue as coach towards the 2020 Olympics, Friend believes he is making progress without seeing the results just yet.

“We talk about it; when we lose we tend to make the error,” he said.

“It’s our error but if we stayed composed, stay chilled and focused I believe we can go really well this weekend.”

Australia will welcome back veteran Jesse Parahi, who has recovered from a long list of injuries in time for his first Sydney tournament and first World Series appearance since 2016.

The 36-caps of experience will help offset the loss of former captain Ed Jenkins, who was forced into retirement due to injury last week.

Australia meet USA on Australia Day to begin the campaign, with further pool games against Scotland and Canada.

The US comfortably beat Australia in the pool stage in South Africa but expect a different side to show up this weekend.

“The reality is that Australia at home is always a difficult proposition … they were outstanding last year and unlucky not to make the final,” USA coach Mike Friday said.

“Australia Day, that’s another thing that will be fuelling them … Australians are hugely fanatical when it comes to their sporting teams and we know how important it is to have that home crowd behind you.”

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