Australian coach Michael O'Connor has named an exciting new team for the opening leg of the 2011/12 IRB Sevens World Series with eight debutants joining the ranks for the inaugural Gold Coast tournament.
The Australian side will have a core of experience via skipper Ed Jenkins, vice-captain Jacob Taylor and young-guns Greg Jeloudev and Lewis Holland for the event which kicks off on Friday and continues until Saturday at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.
O'Connor said the incoming talent now had an opportunity to stake their claim for ongoing international selection after a number of players were unavailable due to injury, including Jesse Parahi and Dan Yakopo.
"This is a really good opportunity for someone new to make a statement," O'Connor said.
"We've had injuries and lost Dan [Yakopo], Jessie [Parahi] and Ed Stubbs, which is unfortunate and it will no doubt place a bigger onus on the experienced campaigners like Ed Jenkins and Jacob Taylor."
O'Connor, however, is comfortable with his squad heading into the Gold Coast tournament.
"Our preparation, to be honest, has been a lot better than in previous years and I'm actually extremely comfortable with who we have named and where the group is at," he said.
"There is certainly no substitute for tournament time, with other sides usually a lot more tournament-hardened than us in the opening legs of the World Series, however the group are all very excited and we can overcome that and hit the ground running I'm sure."
Newly-appointed skipper, Ed Jenkins, re-iterated his coach's comments.
"We might have a few new names to the Sevens scene, but this group is a talented bunch and one that Mick has chosen on form following a good amount of preparation," Jenkins said.
"A new tournament, a new kit and a few new names means we are really starting a fresh chapter in the Aussie Sevens history and it is certainly special for myself to be able to lead the group into the opening leg."
Jenkins, who has now been a regular in the side since 2009, was also confident the side could step up to the challenge that lies ahead in the 16-nation showdown.
"We have full confidence in one another and feel that we can certainly push for this title," he said.
"We're at home and having the crowd behind us will be like having an eighth player out there on the field with us. I just can't wait for it all to begin."
The young group have had a healthy dose of the shortened form of the game, in the lead up to the tournament at Skilled Park, with the side having travelled to Samoa for the Oceania Sevens, followed by two Queensland based hit-outs at the Noosa and Paradise Sevens over successive weekends.
The Gold Coast event will kick off this Friday, November 25, and run over two action-packed days with the opening leg of the Sevens World Series set to showcase some of the most exciting talent in the world of rugby.
Australia: Ed Jenkins (captain), Jacob Taylor, Greg Jeloudev, Jordan Tuapou, Danny Routledge, Con Foley, Pama Fou, Lindsay Crook, Damon Anderson, Lewis Holland, Sean McMahon, Solomoni Rasolea.
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