Six rookies named in Aussies 7’s squad for Wellington

Simon Kennewell - NSW Blue

The Australian Men’s Sevens team will hand debuts to young forward Simon Kennewell and speedster John Porch for the third leg of the 2015-16  Sevens World Series in Wellington next weekend.

Porch, 24, earned a call-up to the national Sevens squad after impressing in this year’s Buildcorp National Rugby Championship for the North Harbour Rays and is a product of the Lloyd McDermott program and Emerging Sevens system.

Sydneysider Simon Kennewell, meanwhile, was a member of the Australian squad that won a silver medal in the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa last September.

Backrower Sam Figg will add to his three World Series caps when he returns to the Sevens arena for the first time since London in 2013 having signed a permanent deal with the centralised Australian Sevens program at the start of this year.

Interim Head Coach Scott Bowen has selected a relatively inexperienced squad for the trip to New Zealand’s North Island with Henry Hutchison, Boyd Killingworth, Tom Kingston and Stefan Van Der Walt – all debutants this season – picked.

World Series regulars James Stannard, playmaker Allan Fa’alava’au and outside back Greg Jeloudev will also play at Westpac Stadium. Nick Malouf (knee), Pama Fou (shoulder) and Pat McCutcheon (hamstring) are both unavailable due to injury.

Australia has been drawn in Pool D alongside Kenya, Canada and Portugal at the HSBC Wellington Sevens.

New Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Andy Friend will assume a watching brief in Wellington before taking over the role permanently for the inaugural HSBC Sydney 7s the following weekend.

Scott Bowen said: “For us at the moment it is about three key considerations – managing the workloads of players in the program as we look towards Rio, giving experience to all of the players in the squad while also looking to get World Series points on the board.

“We’re all looking forward to see how John [Porch] and Simon [Kennewell] – both of whom have come through national programs – perform at the highest level, as well as the returning Sam Figg. Each of them are exciting talents in their own right, good characters and we think they can add something extra to the wider squad.

“With a new Head Coach watching on before taking over and players pushing for spots as we look towards the Olympics in August, I’m expecting to see plenty of hungry players who won’t leave anything out on the pitch over the course of the two days in Wellington.”

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens squad for the Wellington Sevens

Henry Hutchison, Tom Kingston, Sam Myers, Tom Lucas, James Stannard, Simon Kennewell, Sam Figg, Greg Jeloudev, Boyd Killingworth, Allan Fa’alava’au, Stephan van der Walt, John Porch.