Steelers ready to end World Champs drought
Australia has never won a World Championship in wheelchair rugby, but Australian coach Brad Dubberley believes he has selected a team that can finally create history in 2014.
Dubberley revealed his 11-man Australian team today ahead of the IWRF World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Odense, Denmark beginning on August 4.
Led by captain Ryan Scott, it contains seven members of the gold medal winning Australian team from the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and includes just one change to the team which lifted the Canada Cup, the major World Championship warm-up event, earlier this month.
“This is a very strong team,” Dubberley said. “It probably gives us the best chance we have ever had to win a World Championship.”
“We know that we can play the style of rugby that can win it, it is just a matter of whether everybody can do their job when it counts.”
The Australian Steelers were completely outclassed in the gold medal match by the United States at the previous World Championships in Canada in 2010, and used that bitter defeat to help drive them throughout their London 2012 campaign. It worked.
The Australians emerged from the Paralympic Games as the best team in the world, having won every quarter of every game. And they have set themselves the same goal in 2014 according to Dubberley.
The coach’s confidence comes on the back of impressive recent victories including the hotly-contested Canada Cup in Vancouver and the Asia Oceania Championships late last year in South Africa, in which the majority of the squad battled food poisoning.
“We speak a lot of about wanting to win every quarter of every game in the major tournaments we play in, and that’s exactly what we want to do in Denmark,” Dubberley said.
“We have a lot of big game experience now and our new guys have shown that they are fitting into the team well. There is no doubt the new guys also took a lot of confidence from the Canada Cup, where they all played big minutes and played pretty well.”
The 12-team tournament in Denmark sees two pools of six, with Australia set to meet Great Britain, Canada, Finland, Belgium and the host nation in the qualifying rounds.
The other pool will see Team USA, Japan, Sweden, Germany, France and Switzerland do battle.
“We are definitely in the harder pool but I do like that,” Dubberley said.
“It means there are no easy games and it means that we will need to be at our best throughout the whole tournament. We can’t drop off at all.
“We know Canada will be a very tough and very physical opponent for us, and that the European teams play a very different style of rugby to one that we play. They focus more on passing, ball control and being patient while we play a faster, more physical style. That means we will just have to stay focussed and not get frustrated.
“It’s a good challenge and we can’t wait to get over there and get into it.”
Victorians Jayden Warn, Jason Ellery and Michael Ozanne are the three newest faces in the squad announced today, while former New Zealand veteran Curtis Palmer is set to play his first World Championship in the green and gold.
Those four join the seven gold medallists from London 2012, including Cameron Carr who makes his return to the Australian squad after missing out on the Canada Cup this month.
Australian Wheelchair Rugby Team
#2 – Nazim Erdem (VIC) – 0.5
#3 – Ryley Batt (NSW) – 3.5
#4 – Josh Hose (VIC) – 3.0
#5 – Jason Ellery(VIC) – 2.0
#6 – Michael Ozanne (QLD) – 0.5
#7 – Jason Lees (VIC) – 1.0
#10 – Chris Bond (QLD) – 3.5
#11 – Ryan Scott (QLD) – 0.5
#12 – Curtis Palmer (VIC) – 2.5
#13 – Cameron Carr (QLD) – 2.0
#23 – Jayden Warn(VIC) – 3.0
Article courtesy Australian Paralympic Committee