Posted @ 11/27/2015 By Beth NewmanPosted in [ ] | 0 Comments
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.
A call-up from the Waratahs ended that possibility as the then 19-year-old opted for a Super Rugby contract.
This time around, the former Waratahs and Rebels back leapt at the opportunity to play a part in the Sevens team - and is primed for his debut in the World Series opener in Dubai after signing a training contract earlier this week.
“The pathway for Sevens is so much more developed than it was five years ago and they got in touch with me... It’s something that really excited me,” he said.
“I sort of felt that there was potential that my skills would work well in the Sevens format and obviously in such a great group with such a massive carrot at the end of the year.
"It's a massive year for Sevens rugby. I was really excited when the opportunity came and I¹ve just been trying to dive in over the last month or two."
It hasn¹t all been plain sailing for the 24-year-old though, adapting to the faster format where specialisation is more difficult.
“I think that when you come from a 15s background you don’t look too much at Sevens but these guys are super, super talented and what I’ve found across the board is the skills are excellent,” he said.
“The guys are all really good movers and really good athletes but also their skills, their contact work, their passing and stepping is top notch.
“You don't necessarily find that in Super Rugby or 15-a-side rugby, because guys have their own skill set that they’re really, really good at, whereas in sevens you can’t actually be deficient in any area.”
Strategy rather than athleticism proved the biggest learning curve for the outside back.
“I found the toughest part has been the game play itself,” he said.
“The fitness and the hard work was something I prided myself on in the past but just learning the game defensively and sort of how it operates (was a challenge).”
While he¹d watched a handful of games as a fan, Kingston said his perspective on the game had changed since joining the squad.
"I watched it a lot over the years but you watch it in a different headspace compared to when you're looking at it when you know a little bit more," he said.
"Obviously it’s crucial for me to learn the game and to watch as much as possible, both of Australia as well as the teams we’re coming up against throughout the year.
Now that he’s here, Kingston sees Sevens as a long-term prospect, rather than a stepping stone into Super Rugby.
“A lot of programs worldwide are trending towards developing a Sevens pathway that runs parallel to the 15s,” he said.
“So you have Sevens players that aren¹t necessarily looking for 15s contracts, they’re simply going to be Sevens players.
“There's definitely potential for it to go into a game unto itself as opposed to being used as a platform for a 15s contract.”
Catch the Australian Men's Sevens team at the Sydney Sevens on February 6-7, 2016. To buy tickets, click here.
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