Stan­nard feels pres­sure from Cooper


Kalgoorlie Miner - - SPORT -

Vet­eran play­maker James Stan­nard will show­case his rugby sev­ens worth as standin cap­tain in Welling­ton be­fore Aus­tralia rolls the dice with Quade Cooper at the in­au­gu­ral Syd­ney 7s.

Stan­nard will lead a green­horn Thun­der­bolts out­fit in the third leg of the world se­ries at West­pac Sta­dium this week­end, ad­mit­ting he is un­der pres­sure be­fore Cooper’s in­ter­na­tional de­but.

But the canny 32-year-old is back­ing him­self to keep his long-held po­si­tion for the Rio Olympics, and notes the Wal­la­bies five-eighth will also be un­der the pump.

“It puts pres­sure on all the halves to suc­ceed,” he said from Welling­ton.

“There’s a bit of pres­sure on him as well. It’s a dif­fer­ent sort of game.

“It’s a com­pet­i­tive bloody sport and no one is go­ing to be lay­ing down and dy­ing.”

Stan­nard is one of just three reg­u­lar Thun­der­bolts cam­paign­ers play­ing when Aus­tralia meets Por­tu­gal, Canada and Kenya in their Satur­day pool matches.

Newly ap­pointed coach Andy Friend has rested a large num­ber of his se­nior play­ers, in­clud­ing cap­tain Ed Jenk­ins and game-break­ing star Cam Clark, so they are fresh for the Syd­ney tour­na­ment.

But those A-team plans have also been hit with Cooper’s French club, Toulon, de­lay­ing his re­turn un­til Wed­nes­day. This gives him only two train­ing ses­sions to adapt to the high-en­ergy game.

Stan­nard fully ex­pects Cooper to be a hit, but ad­mits his short prepa­ra­tion time will cause dis­rup­tions and make life tough for com­bi­na­tions.

“If he can get some tour­na­ments un­der his belt and see what it’s all about, he’ll go well if he puts in the ef­fort,” he said.

While Aus­tralia have been drawn in a friend­lier pool than hosts New Zealand, who have a huge first-day clash against South Africa, Stan­nard says they will not take any match lightly.

They face Por­tu­gal, Canada and Kenya but rank out­siders Por­tu­gal ru­ined their 2015 sea­son with a 12-10 up­set in Ja­pan in the penul­ti­mate round.

De­spite the in­ex­pe­ri­enced na­ture of the sev­enth-placed Thun­der­bolts, Stan­nard says they are aim­ing for their first tour­na­ment vic­tory of the year. AAP

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

James Stan­nard will cap­tain the Thun­der­bolts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.