Australia men’s 7s will push for their first medal

Sevens vice-captain Henry Hutchison recently had a chat with Rugby Australia about the Tokyo Olympics, he admits their disappointing exit from the Rio Olympic Games five years ago is spurring the men’s side on as they push for their first medal.

Hutchinson and captain Nick Malouf are the lone survivors from the team knocked out in the quarter-finals in 2016, finishing eighth after losses to South Africa, Argentina and France.

In their first Olympics, Hutchinson admits the glory and hype surrounding the event got to him in his first season as a Sevens player.

“I know personally I got lost in the moment. I was a lot younger then and got caught up in the Olympic hype of just being an Olympian,” he told Rugby.com.au

“However, when you are an Olympian and you come eighth, it’s quite a hollow feeling.

“Once an Olympian, always an Olympian and you can’t take that away but when you’re competitive and you want to do your nation, family, friends and Rugby Australia proud, coming eighth is quite painful.

“That was a big learning for me because I was caught up in ‘I’m an Olympian, how fantastic let me pat myself on the back’ but it was almost like I took the foot off the accelerator just before when I needed to put it on.

Australia faced off against Oceania at day three of the Oceania Sevens at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Having experienced the highs as well through the gold-medalist women’s program, the 24-year-old believes they are more prepared to deal with the challenges the Olympics will throw up.

“We’re so much more prepared than the first one this year around. It was Rugby Sevens birth in 2016 and now that a number have gone before and learnt from our mistakes and the program has learnt from a successful mission by the girls, we’ve learnt from both programs,” he admitted.

“I think it’s a bit a catch 22 when I look at it. I feel like I needed myself and the program needed to make mistakes to rectify it and look back on it retrospectively,”

“As much you want to recognize the Olympics as being such an important Games and the pinnacle of sport, we also need to attack as another day in the job and not put too much pressure on ourselves internally. We need to attack it as a normal World Sevens tournament.”

As the squad undergoes their final preparations before leaving for Tokyo at the end of the week, both programs have limited their movements to home and their training base at Rugby Australia.

Hutchison and the rest of the squad are well aware of the consequences of a positive COVID test with Sydney still in lockdown.

“I think this week is a potential anxious week for the boys. You’re so close but you still have to get onto the plane. With the environment Sydney is in, all the boys are being very diligent with their movements outside movements. We’re very keen to get over there” he said.

“There’s a lot at stake…we know a positive COVID case from here on in probably jeopardizes both programs, not just the individual.”

“There’s a lot to lose so we’re just training hard and heading straight home to put our feet up.”