Lucas Hammond returns from injury as Canada sevens squad heads Down Under

Recovered from a foot injury, Lucas Hammond returns to action as the Canadian men travel to New Zealand and Australia for the third and fourth stops on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

It will be Hammond's first World Series action since Dubai in November 2018. Andrew Coe, injured at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, also makes his return.

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The Canadians stand 12th overall after placing 10th in Dubai and 11th in Cape Town. Next up are Hamilton (Jan. 25-26) and Sydney (Feb. 1-2).

"We didn't achieve our goal of reaching the quarterfinals in Dubai and Cape Town but as our first major head-out of the year, there was some progression between tournaments," Canada coach Henry Paul said in a statement. "As we got through the two weekends, we started to find our identity and that's what we're going to push through into tournaments three and four in Hamilton and Sydney."

Theo Sauder, who impressed in his Series debut in the season's first two stops, continues as an injury replacement for Adam Zaruba (lower body). Strike runner Justin Douglas (leg) and Admir Cejvanovic (groin), who missed the first two stops, remain out.

Canada will compete in Pool C in Hamilton against No. 3 France, No. 10 Ireland and No. 14 Spain.

"It's a tricky pool," said Paul. "There is no easy teams in the World Series at the moment — a lot of upsets in Cape Town show that."

Canada opens against Ireland and France (on Jan. 24, Canada time) before facing Spain the next day. The Canadian men go into the tournament with a career 4-2-0 record against Ireland, 22-43-4 against France and 13-5-2 against Spain.

Fiji enters as defending champion, having beaten the U.S. in last year's final. Host New Zealand won bronze.

The Canadian women are competing at the Hamilton event, also in a pool with France, Spain and Ireland.

Canada Men's Roster:

Phil Berna, Vancouver, UVIC Vikes; Connor Braid, Victoria; James Bay AA; Andrew Coe, Markham, Ont., Markham Irish; Mike Fuailefau, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers; Lucas Hammond, Toronto, UVIC Vikes; Nathan Hirayama (co-capt.), Richmond, B.C., unattached; Harry Jones (co-capt.), West Vancouver, Capilano RFC; Isaac Kaay, Kamloops, B.C., UVIC Vikes; Pat Kay, Duncan, B.C., Castaway Wanderers; Josiah Morra, Toronto, Toronto Saracens; David Richard, Milton, Ont.; Mississauga Blues; Theo Sauder, Vancouver, Toronto Arrows; Jake Thiel, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020.

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