7 Sevens stars locked in as Tokyo 2020 push begins
22 September 2017
RUGBY SEVENS: Aussie Men's Sevens coach Andy Friend has locked in seven stars that will form the core of his team's push to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As preparations for a huge 2018 ramp up with the Oktoberfest 7s in Munich on September 29, Friend has secured the signatures of James Stannard, Jesse Parahi, John Porch, Sam Myers, Simon Kennewell, Liam McNamara and Ben O’Donnell.
Kennewell has signed on until the end of 2019, with McNamara committing through to the 2020 Olympics and Porch locked in until the end of the 2020 season.
Stannard, Parahi, O'Donnell and Myers have all been locked in until the end of 2018.
While keeping the experienced heads of Stannard, Parahi and Myers on board is important, it's the signatures of Kennewell and McNamara, two players that starred for the Australian U20s in Georgia this year, which are particularly significant, along with Porch.
They are stars of the future and will be three integral pieces of the team's push for gold in Tokyo.
"This is a huge coup for the Sevens program, not only to hold onto some of the most exciting prospects in Australian Rugby but also secure some older, more experienced heads too," Friend said.
"This is on top of the five re-signings in June, so to have 12 guys commit in just a couple of months shows we are building something very special.
“Everyone has their eyes set on the goals ahead, with the Sevens World Series coming up fast, before a home Commonwealth Games and Sevens World Cup next year and then the Tokyo Games in 2020."
With the World Series kicking off in Dubai in November, preseason preparations are now in full swing.
“There’s still a few more spots in the squad up for grabs though and we’ll continue to blood more players and give them opportunities in our pre-season tournaments as we grow our playing base," Friend said.
Friend will name the squad set to take on the Oktoberfest 7s on Sunday morning.