Pic by Owen Hammond/APAC Sport Media
The Australian combination of Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh have won the inaugural men’s Four Nations Cup at Sydney’s Manly Beach, beating New Zealand 2-0 in the final.
Schumann and McHugh followed up their gold medal at the FIVB World Tour event in Shepparton earlier this month with a 21-16, 21-15 win over New Zealand’s Rene Kapa and Morgan Seymour.
The bronze medal went to the Austrian combination of Felix Friedl and Lucas Skrabal, who beat Japan’s Yoshiumi Hasegawa and Masato Kurusaka 2-0. .
Schumann and McHugh came together after the Rio Olympics because of injuries to their regular playing partners, and the results so far have been encouraging.
“We’re a fairly new team, we’ve only being playing together for a couple of months,” Schumann said.
“Every time I get to play with him I’m impressed with everything he can do, so I’m really enjoying myself.”
McHugh said it’s likely he will continue to play with Schumann, at least in the short term, and will head overseas after this weekend’s Australian Tour titles.
“Damien has a great array of skills which he brings to the court,” McHugh said.
“Every game, every training session we do together we’re getting better, driving that communication and exploring where we can take things.
“The sky is the limit for us, we’re just enjoying the ride right now and having a blast, looking forward to the Australian titles this weekend.”
The New Zealanders found it hard to counter the Australian style of play in the final, having cruised through their earlier rounds against Austria and Japan.
“We were happy with our play up until the final, but hats off to the boys, they forced us into a game that we don’t like, and they worked us over in a few areas,” Kapa said.
New Zealand has also gone through several team changes since the Olympics, but Seymour said he expects to be playing with Kapa for the foreseeable future.
“Coming off the back of our season in New Zealand, we were continuing to build from there,” Seymour said.
“That’s our plan, to get to the Commonwealth Games. Our season this year will be all around that, trying to get some World Tour points to get us that spot in next year’s Games.”