Sydney Uni representatives Greg Jeloudev, Tom Kingston, Pat McCutcheon and Ed Jenkins of the Australian Rugby Sevens squad just completed a successful six match series against an Australian Development side.
The series was not only used as Rio preparation for the senior team, it also gave some youngsters who weren’t selected in the Rio squad a chance to get some exposure against the best Sevens players in the country.
The Development side was comprised of an exciting combination of Premier Rugby talent, that represented Australia in the Commonwealth Youth Games last September as well as those heading to the World University Games next month in Wales.
With the World Series, 2018 Commonwealth Games and Sevens Rugby World Cup events looming, senior coach Andy Friend is preparing for the future of Australian Sevens, whist having Rio at the current forefront of the program.
The games are also some of the final preparations for the senior squad and the form shown in the series will most definitely have an impact in selecting the final Rio team. The current squad will need to be cut down to 12 for Rio, with all the Sydney Uni boys firmly in the mix to make the final team.
The six match series was played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week at Sevens HQ in Narrabeen, with two games being played each day. Hefty rest periods between games and both squads having extended numbers compared to a normal Sevens team, ensured that the coaching staff were getting the most out of the athletes.
There were plenty of promising signs for the Rio squad. Nick Malouf and Tom Cusack looked sharp as they made successful returns from injury while Jesse Parahi was dominant at times after making his return to Sevens following an eight month stint in the NRL.
Greg Jeloudev, Tom Kingston and Pat McCutcheon all performed solidly for the senior side in the first two days of the series. Having captained the side numerous times and being the most-capped Australian Men’s Sevens player of all time, Sydney Uni athlete Ed Jenkins was rested the first two days of the series but will feature in the third and final day.
The senior Rio squad was too strong and experienced for the Australian Development side, winning every match-up in the first two days. However, the Development side showed some great promise and proved that the future is bright for Australian Rugby Sevens. While the Rio squad was impressive and clinical at times, Coach Friend knows improvements need to be made prior to Rio. We wish our Sydney Uni Rio hopefuls the best of luck in their Olympic pursuits and look forward to a final squad being announced on July 14.