It’s been a whirlwind four months for sevens teenager Henry Hutchison, who shapes as playing a major part in this weekend’s Oceania tournament in Auckland.
Eighteen-year-old Hutchison will tour with the sevens squad for the first time in its Oceania tournament this weekend, with a win guaranteeing the side an Olympics berth.
It’s a moment that wasn’t on his radar when playing schoolboy rugby last year or even when during his debut season in the Shute Shield with Randwick this season, in which he scored three tries over eight first grade games.
He joined the squad in July and was man of the match in the final of last month’s Central Coast sevens, which the Australians won, with his form helping him earn a spot for this weekend’s critical tournament.
The winger said he couldn’t quite believe the opportunity that presented itself after only four months in the elite squad.
“To (possibly) know that I’ve just helped to get an Australian team to the Olympics,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have even been thinking of that at school last year, it wouldn’t have been on the radar.
“Knowing that I can contribute in one way or another is awesome.”
While his pace has earned him the nickname “Pinball” from coach Tim Walsh, Hutchison said he was still adapting to the sevens.
“It is a different game to 15s and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand,” he said.
“It takes time to learn and adapt to the game but once you get kind of hold of it, it’s a lot of fun.”
At 175cm and 86kg, he’s not too far off the mould of one of his rugby role models, Matt Giteau.
Giteau was one of Australia’s best in the 2015 Rugby World Cup and Hutchison hopes to follow in his footsteps, after training with the ACT Brumbies in the pre-season.
“He’s not the biggest and I’m definitely not the biggest so I definitely copy him and idolise him a lot,” he said.
“Everyone’s talking about how great sevens is as a pathway, just look at Sean McMahon he’s the latest success story.
“You look at the back line for the Wallabies, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau even, they all played sevens.
“You learn a lot of running rugby, they make you quicker, faster, stronger.
“That’s definitely one of the reasons why I signed.”
The Aussie sevens have been dealt an injury blow ahead of the Oceania qualifying tournament, with Tom Lucas ruled out with a hamstring injury.