Rugby: Australia sevens making strides, but Fiji and All Blacks remain favourites for Rio gold

SINGAPORE - With a combined six victories in the seven HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series legs this season, it is apparent that defending champions Fiji and New Zealand are in a league of their own while the rest of the pack play catch-up.

But a recent run of credible results by the Australians has offered a glimmer of hope that the Thunderbolts can upset the hegemony this season, with winger Cameron Clark eyeing victory in this week's Singapore leg.

Said the 25-year-old: "Fiji don't play like anyone else. They throw the ball around a lot, are very good offloaders of the ball and just keep the ball alive... When the Fijians click and their passes all stick, they're pretty hard to stop.

"New Zealand are often a physical team... They've got some big guys who are very physical and dominant with the ball in hand."

Australia finished fourth at last week's Hong Kong Sevens. It was their fourth straight top-four finish (2nd in Sydney and Las Vegas and 3rd in Vancouver) and it has given the side plenty of confidence ahead of the Olympic Games in August when rugby sevens makes it debut.

Clark, who competed in a "laksa-making challenge" at Lau Par Sat organised by team sponsor Qantas together with teammates Sam Myers, Frank Winterstein and Stephan van der Walt, added on Tuesday: "Our team is starting to really build and to compete with the top sides in the world. We had four Cup semis in a row now and there's plenty of belief in the side.

"We believe we can be right up there in the medal contention and, hopefully in August in Rio, we have gold medals around our necks."