While it’s been billed as the clash of the fastest men in rugby, Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh has low-key expectations for debutant Trae Williams in the Dubai tournament this week.
The men’s team will ramp up preparations for the Tokyo Olympics with the opening round of the world rugby sevens series, while Dubai is the second round for the women’s team.
Sprinter-turned-footballer Williams will make his debut just seven months after being recruited from athletics.
In Australia’s third pool game he will go head-to-head with American flyer Carlin Isles, who believes he owns the fastest player title.
Walsh had some simple instructions for the 22-year-old whose best 100m time is 10.10 seconds: “Run fast”.
“I’m not expecting much from him over the weekend at all,” Walsh told AAP.
“I really want him to enjoy himself and to get a feel for it and the players around him will hopefully allow him, or create space for him, to use his weapon – speed.
“It’s a huge occasion and despite his background and the work he’s done, it’s still a massive step so there’s absolutely no pressure on him.”
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Wallabies outside back Jack Maddocks wasn’t considered for the Dubai leg after a gruelling year which saw him go from Super Rugby to World Cup preparations and when cut from that squad, join the sevens program.
“We are still working out release dates with the Rebels but he needed a break,” Walsh said.
“He’s resting and then in the background we are working out the best thing for Jack and Australian rugby in terms of when is the best time to go back and forth.”
While he played in the Olympic qualifying tournament last month, New Zealand-born Josh Turner will finally makes his world seven series debut after getting his Australian passport.
“Josh has been in our program for almost 18 months but he hasn’t been able to play but he got his passport just prior to Oceania and he played really well,” Walsh said.
“He’s a ball player with speed so his role is to give us that depth in the midfield and pull the strings there.”
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