Australia’s sixth-place finish in the HSBC World Series in Singapore would have disappointed their players who were aiming to strengthen their hopes of a late push for an Olympic spot.
However, one player that certainly caught the attention of the fans in attendance, and the viewers watching on television was 21-year-old Josh Coward.
The young Australian signed his first full-time contract with the sevens team in July 2018 after impressing Andy Friend and his coaching staff during a string of matches in June. He has long been on the radar after being part of the Australian team who won a Commonwealth Youth Games silver medal in 2015.
The HSBC World Series was the first time that Coward has shone on the global stage, and that was helped by the Aussies’ strong start to the competition; winning all of their pool games in Singapore with their young squad who also included Simon Kennewell, Jeral Skelton, and Liam McNamara.
Unfortunately, they lost in the quarter-finals to England before being beaten again by New Zealand. Coward was the stars of that show when he ensured the game went into overtime when he converted a try from 22 minutes to tie the game at 22-22. His efforts were in vain following Tim Mikkelson’s winner for the All Blacks Sevens.
Congratulations to Old Collegian Josh Coward (SPC 2015) who has been selected in the Australian Senior Men’s Rugby Sevens team to make his debut this weekend! https://t.co/EeVLO4qNUp pic.twitter.com/wFjgFM80JW
— spcballarat (@spcballarat) January 21, 2019
One thing was for sure, Coward had gained a lot of plaudits on that weekend’s action, and he was happy that the large contingent of Australian support was receptive to his efforts.
Speaking to VAVEL after his side was knocked out, he recalled: “It was good, I enjoyed it. I’ve been trying to get on the world stage for a while now. Coach (Tim Walsh) is finally giving me a chance to showcase what I’ve got I guess, and it’s just a pleasure playing alongside all the boys. I love it. It’s been excellent.”
He was then asked whether he gets nervous playing alongside the experienced professionals that make up the majority of the Australian team, replying: “No, I don’t get nervous at all because I know my boys and my team are going to do whatever they have to do to get the win.
“Nerves do come but [they] don’t come from playing with the players I play with. It’s coming out and playing in front of all the people here and for all the people back home as well.”
Coward admitted that his family, friends, and girlfriend’s support is what makes him able to thrive on the international scene. He said: “I come out and play for them. They put a lot of time and effort into my training and stuff like that all through the years, and it’s been a long run.”
The Australian Sevens will be looking to improve on their recent results when they head to London at the end of May for the penultimate leg of the HSBC World Series.
Main photo credit: Rugby Australia