Queensland dent Aussies' Sevens hopes

AUSTRALIAN state side Queensland could jeopardise their country's bid for glory at the Hongkong Sevens and World Cup Sevens by refusing to release their top players.

Queensland are keen to do well in the inaugural Super 10 series in April featuring the leading southern hemisphere teams.

And they are unwilling to risk injuries to their top players, who include Australia's centre pairing of Tim Horan and Jason Little.

However, the New Zealand Rugby Union have given Hongkong and the World Cup in Edinburgh top priority over the inaugural Super 10 series.

In New Zealand, it has been agreed that the national team is to be given top priority and provincial sides in the Super 10 series have accepted that they may be without their top players for some matches.

The Super 10 series features four New Zealand provinces, Australia's Queensland and New South Wales, Western Samoa and South African provinces Natal, Transvaal and Northern Transvaal.

Australian coach Bob Dwyer is due to name his Sevens squad in the first week of March and will miss Horan, who captained the Australian team which reached the semi-finals of last year's Hongkong Sevens.

New Zealand, with Peter Thorburn back as coach, will be aiming to break Fiji's three-year hold on the Hongkong event and will have all the nation's sevens specialists, apart from Scott Pierce, available for selection.

Pierce is playing rugby in Japan, but All Blacks Frank Bunce and John Timu have expressed an interest in playing this year.

Thorburn will name his 10-man squad for the March 27-28 Hongkong Sevens and the April 16-18 World Cup Sevens after the national trials on March 7.

''Both Frank and John are very keen on playing sevens. But that doesn't mean they will get in,'' said Thorburn, who returns to the helm held by Wayne Smith for two years.

''There is a tremendous will to go to Hongkong and do well and with the advent of the World Cup, there is even more interest.'' He plans to keep the same squad for both Hongkong and Edinburgh.

While praising Smith for his work with the sevens squad over the last two years, Thorburn feels a different outlook is needed.

''I don't like to use the word 'aggression' as it could be construed the wrong way, but we do need to put pressure on our opponents and do our best to retain the ball.

''There also seems to be a lot more kicking in sevens than necessary.''