Parahi to lead Aussie men at Comm Games
VETERAN forward Jesse Parahi will captain Australia's men's Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games.
Rugby Australia made the announcement on Wednesday following the shocking withdrawal of James Stannard, who suffered a broken jaw in the early hours of last Friday morning from a coward punch in Sydney's east.
Parahi, who made his international debut at the London Sevens in 2010, will run out for his 40th cap on the Gold Coast when Australia aims to better the bronze medal they earned in Glasgow four-years-ago.
The decision to promote Parahi doesn't come as a surprise.
He was already in the side's leadership group and the 28-year-old represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He said that the team would use Stannard's withdrawal as motivation at the tournament.
"It's been a strange feeling to take the role of captaincy in such difficult circumstances for 'Chucky' but I am honoured to be given the chance to captain my country," Parahi said.
"For us as a team there's a real sense that we want to do it for James who would have been playing in his third Commonwealth Games.
"This adversity has bonded us closer together and we'll rise to the challenge when we run out on the Gold Coast in front of a home crowd."
Already without regular captain and playmaker Lewi Holland due a to hamstring injury, the loss of Stannard is a crushing blow to the side's hopes.
But the reality is Stannard is lucky to be alive after banging the side of his head on the concrete after Good Friday's unprovoked attack outside a Sydney kebab shop.
The Australian team, joined by friends and family, were out celebrating the contribution made by coach Andy Friend, who will finish in the role following the Games, when the night turned sour.
British national Sam Oliver, 22, has been charged with the alleged attack and is expected to appear at Waverley Local Court on April 19.
"The last few days have been very tough for the whole squad, but we are relieved that James is back home with his family where he can rest," Friend said.
"Jesse has accepted the role of captain with great humility. He's very aware that his opportunity to lead the team has come about due to the misfortunes of both Lewis and James, but this does not diminish his own leadership qualities and standing within the team.
"He is a man of outstanding character and I know that he will lead this team with great energy at the Commonwealth Games.
"The team has rallied together really well, and we are focused 100 per cent on our preparation for the tournament."
Australian commence their Commonwealth Games campaign on April 14 and have been drawn alongside Samoa, Jamaica and England.