Australian men's sevens captain Lewis Holland insists his team can still take out a maiden Sydney Sevens title after youngster Simon Kennewell was ruled out of the tournament because of a ruptured ACL.
Kennewell, 21, went down innocuously during a drill at Moore Park on Tuesday and shortly after was given the bad news he would not be featuring in front of a home crowd.
He has been replaced in the squad by Tom Connor and will miss the rest of the Sevens World Series, including the Commonwealth Games and World Cup later this year.
"He was just on the inside of me and his knee just gave way when we were defending a lineout," Holland said. "It was one of those freak things that it wasn't necessarily a heavy contact or he was doing something stupid, it was just an unlucky circumstance.
"Simmo was very unlucky. He played well at the start of the season, [in] pre-season and he's a valuable team member that we'll dearly miss this weekend and throughout the season.
"I sent him a message last night saying I'm all ears if he wants to have a chat. I've got plenty of time for him. He's a good mate of mine."
Asked about Connor and what he could bring on debut, Holland said: "He won't let you down with effort. He'll come out with all guns blazing and I reckon he'll have a great tournament."
The 13 players in the Australian squad have an average of 17 appearances.
A fourth placing at last year's Sydney Sevens has raised expectations heading into the blockbuster event and if things go the Australians' way, they could be on the verge of claiming a first World Series title since 2012.
Holland is remaining optimistic and setting the bar high heading into the three-day tournament.
"In our own backyard we're looking to get the cake," Holland said. "We're going out there with no less than first place [as a goal] and hopefully we achieve that this weekend.
"We're always wanting to deliver results and we'll definitely try and achieve that every time we take the pitch.
"The team is thriving to go. We had a good session yesterday [Tuesday] against Wales."
Australia tackle USA on day one (8:12pm) before Canada (5:15pm) and Scotland (8:04pm) on day two.
"It's a tough pool," Holland said. "Every game in the World Series is tough, everyone can show up. We're going to take every game as it comes."
Temperatures of 27 degrees are forecast for the opening two days, but 80 per cent expected humidity will make things uncomfortable for players.
Holland believes Australia will have an advantage over their northern-hemisphere rivals.
"We're ahead of the likes of England and that who are over there kicking snow ??? we're kicking dust," Holland said. "We've definitely got a little bit of an advantage because of the weather and the climate we've been training in. Hopefully that pays for us later on down the track."