'No time for safe play'

2012-02-29 11:27
Michael O'Connor (AFP)
Sydney - Australian players are ''too scared'' to run the ball and Super Rugby teams have fallen into the trap of continually taking safe options, national sevens coach Michael O'Connor says.

And the dual international insists the Wallabies need to embrace a fluent style and take more risks if they want to return to the top of world rugby.

O'Connor was shocked at the conservative styles he saw in last week's opening round.

The seven games were dominated by referees, which led to 59 penalty goals and no teams gaining a four-try bonus point.

O'Connor urged Australian players to ''have a crack''.

''You've got to want to run the ball, but a lot of sides now are taking the safety option,'' he said.

''Whenever Australia has been at the top, we've had backs that back themselves, are creative and prepared to take risks.

''The way France played in the World Cup final last year showed that attacking, running rugby can dominate a game against the best team in the world.''

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie echoed O'Connor's concerns and said the tight Australian derbies contributed to the lack of attack last weekend.

O'Connor has become accustomed to the free-flowing style of sevens rugby. He doesn't expect the Australian franchises to adopt an attack-at-all costs approach but he hoped teams would employ a game plan which didn't result in a kicking contest for territorial advantage.

Sevens is increasing in popularity and has been added to the Olympic schedule for 2016.

O'Connor hoped the growth of sevens could help add another attacking edge to rugby.

''It seems now players are too scared to have a crack sometimes, they'll take the safe option knowing that if they do stuff up, they could be out of the squad,'' O'Connor said. ''I think we're risk-averse when it comes to having a crack and playing fluent rugby.

''It's an attitude thing and if you've got the right players, that attacking style can work.''

O'Connor is casting his eye over some of the best players in Australia at the sevens selection camp. The squad is preparing for March's Hong Kong tournament and is sixth in the overall standings.

O'Connor will cut his 24-man squad to 12 at the end of the week before ramping up training.

Queanbeyan Whites speedster Lewis Holland is expected to be included despite a medial ligament injury limiting his training.

Holland will juggle his Australian sevens commitments with playing for the Whites.

And while his goal remains winning a Super Rugby contract, the 18-year-old wants to establish himself as a sevens star first.

''I find sevens challenging and fun,'' Holland said. ''There's a lot of space and opportunity to create things on the field. Sevens has been a pathway into the 15-a-side game, but I'm happy and you can't go wrong getting to travel the world at a young age.''


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