Men’s Eagles Sevens: 2018 Sydney 7s Preview

Return of Perry Baker restores a valuable dynamic to the Men's Sevens

THIS SERIES LAST TIME
After finishing 15th in Dubai, the Men's Eagles Sevens cruised through pool play to start their run at the Cape Town Sevens Tournament undefeated. A shutout win over New Zealand (0-22) to start the day, a hat trick by Carlin Isles to beat Australia (14-31) and four tries to hold over Spain (5-26) sent the Eagles flying into the race for the Cup.

Though they earned their first Cape Town loss against Argentina (12-28) in the Cup Quarter finals, they bounced back against France (29-12) but ultimately fell to Fiji for a 6th place finish.

Ending 9 spots higher than they did in Dubai, the Eagles earned 12 points towards their Series standing; allowing them to climb three spots to their current overall position of 12th place.

WHO TO WATCH
The highly-anticipated return of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Perry Baker finally comes to fruition as the stud suits up for Sydney, restoring an important dynamic to the team.

Fellow speedster Carlin Isles joins Baker, having broke open in Cape Town to earn himself a spot in the Top 5 (5th) for most tries scored in the Series. Isles currently sits as the top try scorer on the team with 11 total tries in his last two tournaments.

Contributing to the heavy point-scoring himself, Captain Madison Hughes returns leading the squad in overall points scored with 49 including tries and conversions.

Stephen Tomasin will bring a combination of speed and agility to join his veteran teammates who, together, will all have the task of guiding newcomer Chris Mattina in his first ever Series tournament.

HEAR IT FROM THE HEAD COACH
On the return of World Rugby Player of the Year ... 
"Having Perry back fit is fantastic for the squad. He is World Rugby Player of the Year -- deservedly so -- and he will no doubt add to our attacking threat and aerial ability. Particularly, he'll complement what we already have on the outside with Carlin as well as [compliment] how both the racehorses operate with Maka and Martin in outside channels."

On camp ...

"Camp was disrupted by rain and storms with California not equipped to deal with water logged pitches. However, we managed to get through the work on and off the pitch and focus on the areas we need to work on to be a more competitive team in this next pairing."

On pool play ... 
"Our focus going into pool play will be to concentrate on playing our game to our potential. We know the fluidity of our attack is about getting accuracy from our start points and never taking the basics for granted so that we control the ball."

THE COMPETITION
First up for Head Coach Mike Friday and his crew on Fri, Jan. 26 is tournament host Australia who currently owns a 6th place position in the Series standings after beating Spain (7-26) to earn the Challenge Trophy in Cape Town. Scotland (13th overall) - whom the Eagles will face for the first time this season -- will follow just before squaring off with rival Canada (7th overall) to close out pool play.

Men's Eagles Sevens Roster | Sydney 7s Tournament

Perry Baker
Danny Barrett
Madison Hughes (C)
Martin Iosefo
Carlin Isles
Matai Leuta
Chris Mattina
Folau Niua
Ben Pinkelman
Joe Schroeder
Stephen Tomasin
Maka Unufe
Kevon Williams

Men's Eagles Sevens Staff | Sydney 7s Tournament

Head Coach - Mike Friday
Assistant Coach - Chris Brown
Assistant Coach - Phil Greening
Physiotherapist - Brian Green

Men's Eagles Sevens Schedule | Pool D | Sydney 7s Tournament

LIVE on ESPN3
vs. Australia | Fri, Jan. 26 - 4:12 AM ET
vs. Scotland | Sat, Jan 27 - 12:53 AM ET
vs. Canada | Sat, Jan 27 - 4:26 AM ET

WHERE WE STAND
HSBC World Series Standing: 12th
HSBC World Series Points: 13
Top Players in Tries Scored: Carlin Isles, 5th

TO SUM IT UP
With strong momentum from Cape Town, World Rugby Player of the Year Perry Baker and a collection of seasoned athletes, the Men's Eagles Sevens are ready for Sydney 7s. Australia, Scotland and rival Canada should all be prepared to see a driving force well-rested and ready for the pitch next week, LIVE on ESPN3.