Sevens stars to watch in Paris
WE PICK SEVEN PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON AT THIS WEEKEND’S PARIS SEVENS, PLAYERS WHO ARE LIKELY TO BE PUTTING THEIR HANDS UP FOR SELECTION AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES IN AUGUST.
Henry Hutchison (Australia) -
This 19-year-old has stormed onto the series in the tournaments he has played in. A debut in Cape Town may not have given much away, but impressive performances in Sydney, Las Vegas and Vancouver where he helped Australia to two second-places finishes and one third has left ‘King Henry’ on the lips of many pundits and fans. With Nick Cummins also in the side there could be an interesting friendly duel between the more experienced ‘Honey Badger’ and Hutchison in the backs as they look to cement places in the Australian Olympic squad.
Akira Ioane, (New Zealand)
Named in the dream team in both tournaments he has played in, Ioane was one of the standout players in both Wellington and Sydney where he not only collected back to back Cup titles, but also the Player of the Final in both. Alongside his younger brother Rieko, New Zealand will welcome their return with one eye on Rio.
Rosko Specman, (South Africa)
Having last appeared in Vancouver, Specman has been in inspired form for South Africa this season and will be aiming to add to his career try tally of 20 as well as creating space for ‘bullet train’ Seabelo Senatla. The Blitzboks have not won a series title since 2009 and if they are to close the gap on Fiji, currently eight points, ahead. Specman will be key to that happening and will be hoping to recapture the form he showed in Wellington where he won the DHL Impact Player award.
Lucas Duque, (Brazil) Josua Tuisova, (Fiji)
Tuisova has scored eight tries for Toulon this season so far, leaving him joint third in the Top 14 try scoring charts, and returns to the Fiji sevens side alongside a few other Francebased players. Tuisova has played just once before for Fiji, but the likes of Samisoni Viriviri and Waisea Nayacalevu should also be kept an eye on. Viriviri has scored 100 tries in 23 tournaments so far, and with Nayacalevu expect some fireworks from these guys.
The captain of the Olympic hosts, and brother of Moises, Duque is always one to watch. Despite his small stature, Lucas has speed and skills aplenty as we have seen when Brazil have played on the series. Recently famous for securing Brazil’s historic win over USA in 15s, and also showcasing a sensational offload against Chile. He is key to Brazil’s hopes in Paris and at the Olympic Games.
Santiago Cordero, (Argentina)
A star of Rugby World Cup 2015, Cordero makes his return to the Argentina sevens side this weekend in Paris having made four previous appearances.
Scorer of 15 tries in those events, coach Santiago Gomez Cora will be hoping Cordero brings the form he showed at RWC 2015 and with the Jaguares in this year’s Super Rugby to the field. Alongside Matias Moroni, another player returning to sevens having been part of Argentina’s RWC squad, the duo could give Gomez Cora some selection headaches heading to Rio.
Julien Candelon, (France)
One of the older guys on the circuit, but still one of the best. Candelon will be 36 when Rio comes around but shows no sign of slowing down. He scored his 100th try in Vancouver, and will be aiming to put on his best display in front of the home crowd in Paris. With a lot of consistency in the French team, Candelon is ably assisted by the likes of captain Terry Bouhraoua and VirimiVakatawa.
Source: World Rugby