Friend to coach Australia Sevens

Australian have named Andy Friend as the national Men’s Sevens head coach on a two-and-a-half-year-contract.

Friend will join the Australian Sevens program from Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath at the conclusion of the current Japan Top League season in January.

Prior to his four seasons in Japan, the 46-year-old was previously in charge of the Brumbies, head coach at English Premiership club Harlequins, coaching assistant at the Waratahs and Brumbies and was part of the Wallabies coaching set-up in 2002 and 2003.

Current interim boss Scott Bowen and the coaching staff at the Australian Sevens centralised base in Narrabeen will prepare the team in the lead up to the Wellington and Sydney legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Friend said: "I am thrilled and honoured to be given the opportunity to head coach the Australian Men's Sevens team. The Australian squad that has been developed over the last few seasons shows great promise, and I'm very excited about working with those players.

"The potential and growth of the game in Australia is enormous, so it's our collective responsibility to play a brand of rugby that excites people and attracts new support. I'm really looking forward to the challenge ahead and making Australians proud to watch their team"

Ben Whitaker, General Manager – High Performance at Australian Rugby Union, added: “We are fortunate to have been able to recruit a coach of Andy’s experience, talent and enthusiasm.

“Andy [Friend] is a very experienced coach with proven abilities in talent identification, individual and team skill development and team leadership. These attributes align well with where the Men’s Sevens team and the program is at and where it needs to further develop.

“Andy is a coach of outstanding character and has proven through a thorough recruitment process to be highly motivated by the Sevens leadership role. He was able to demonstrate a very strong understanding of the game and a vision for the Sevens program and team.

“He will work closely with the current centralised Sevens coaching team and players to continue the development of their game plus look to other sources to support further evolution of our Sevens game through to the Olympics and beyond.”

Friend, who replaces Geraint John as Australian Men’s Sevens head coach, will lead the Australian Men’s side in its first-ever Olympic campaign in Rio in August 2016.