Sevens captain hopes to help Eddie’s raid as moment arrives for World Series champs to shine in Sydney7s


Australia’s men’s and women’s teams have starred on the world stage over the past 12 months. But after being forced to play outside of their backyard since the onset of the COVID pandemic, embracing the pressure of playing in front of friends and family and winning at home is something both teams are desperate to do.

Over the past 12 months John Manenti’s men’s side have followed in the footsteps of Tim Walsh’s side to lift the World Series Sevens crown.

It’s an extraordinary achievement for a code supposedly struggling and going backwards at a rate of knots.

Now, they have the chance to show Australia what they are capable of at a time when rugby is once again being spoken about after the coaching change at the Wallabies, which has seen the prodigal son return 18 years after he last coached his home nation.

Indeed, Eddie Jones will make an appearance on Sunday at Allianz Stadium after touching Down Under.

Australian Sevens Women’s captain Demi Hayes and Australian Sevens Men’s captain Henry Hutchison are eager to perform at the Sydney Sevens returns to Allianz Stadium for the first time since 2018. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

The headlines will naturally flow from one news outlet to the next as the Eddie show returns.

It means success in Sydney for Australia’s sevens teams, with the Paris Olympics just 18 months away, comes with the added incentive of eyeballs and interest from across the sporting landscape.

“We’re always trying to put rugby union back in the papers. I’m sure Eddie will help us with that,” stand-in captain Henry Hutchison told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s really important that we perform, perform under pressure, perform in Australia and we perform in front of our fans, so that they can be proud of us and they can be proud of rugby in Australia.”

Rugby union fans won’t be the only people treated to the Sydney Sevens either, with NRL powerhouse, the Sydney Roosters, basing themselves at the new precinct.

It means for former Australian Schoolboy talents like Luke Keary and Joseph Suaalii, the duo will only have to pop their heads into the venue to catch a glimpse of what it could be like to make a cross-code switch.

Suaalii, particularly, has been linked with making a high-profile move at some point during his burgeoning career and the shot at playing in an Olympics, British and Irish Lions series and a home World Cup is something that is tempting the 19-year-old.

Hutchison agreed that sevens would be a lure for attracting the best athletes across to Australian rugby.

“Definitely (it could be a lure),” Hutchison said.

“Rugby Australia are doing a really good job to get the pillars all working together so it’s not XVs, sevens, women’s sevens and Wallaroos. We are trying to get one big happy family.

“So whatever talent Eddie looks to be bringing in from rugby league or overseas, I am sure they will have that opportunity to put their hand up if they would like to play in the sevens jersey.”

Captains of all Men’s and Women’s teams pose with the Sydney Sevens trophies during at Barangaroo Reserve on January 25, 2023 in Sydney. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

Australia’s men’s sevens team is also getting a taste of what Walsh’s women’s side has experienced for years too, as they get used to life being the hunted.

Having won their maiden World Series title last season, Australia opened their campaign by winning in Hong Kong before struggling over the next few tournaments.

It has left Australia in seventh spot on the World Series standings with 52 points, 11 shy of front-runners New Zealand.

Their task won’t get any easier this weekend either, with Australia pooled alongside Hamilton 7s champions Argentina, Great Britain and Canada.

Hutchison said it was “definitely a new bit of pressure” but they were “enjoying it” and eager to return to the top four in the standings.

“There’s 10 teams that could probably roll out and win this tournament,” he said.

Meanwhile, Australia’s women’s co-captain Demi Hayes said the tournament was a great chance to perform under pressure in front of friends and family on the road to Paris.

“I think there’s nothing better than playing at home in front of a crowd with that little bit of pressure, but I think our team really strives under pressure,” she said.

“A lot of our girls love having the thrive and the party in the stands while they’re playing all the noise, so there’s nothing better than having this kind of practice tournament at home in preparation for Paris.”

Australia’s women’s side, who have been pooled alongside Ireland, Spain and Brazil, is in second place on the World Series standings with 54 points, four points behind the reigning Olympic champions, New Zealand.

DAY ONE Fixtures – JANUARY 27



Pool B: Great Britain v Fiji, 12:00 pm

Pool B: USA v Canada, 12:22 pm

Pool A: Japan v France, 12:44 pm

Pool A: New Zealand v PNG, 1:06 pm

Pool C: Ireland v Spain, 1:28 pm

Pool C: Australia v Brazil, 1:50 pm

Pool B: Great Britain v Canada, 5:38 pm

Pool B: USA v Fiji, 6:00 pm

Pool A: Japan v PNG, 6:37 pm

Pool A: New Zealand v France, 7:05 pm

Pool C: Ireland v Brazil, 7:35 pm

Pool C: Australia v Spain, 8:03 pm


Pool C: Ireland v Samoa, 2:22 pm

Pool C: USA v Spain, 2:44 pm

Pool B: South Africa, 3:06 pm

Pool B: New Zealand v Uruguay, 3:28 pm

Pool D: Fiji v Tonga, 3:50 pm

Pool D: France v Japan, 4:12 pm

Pool A: Australia v Great Britain, 4:34 pm

Pool A: Argentina v Canada, 4:56 pm

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