The Aussie Sevens paid a cross-code visit to the Adelaide Crows last week and learned some valuable lessons.
Pat McCutcheon was one of four men’s players who visited,while Shannon Parry, Emilee Cherry and Sharni Williams represented the Women’s Sevens.
The group watched on in a Crows team meeting, observed training and spent time with Crows captain Taylor Walker and vice-captain Rory Sloane.
McCutcheon and Parry said the AFL team’s clear sense of identity and bond between all in the club was something that could easily transfer to Sevens.
“(It’s about) making sure you're doing what you say you want to be.
“They did a few different things and had few different people to talk in training, introducing younger players to be a voice and lead.
“That’s something we're trying to do but to watch another team do it was good to see.”
For the Men’s Sevens, identity is something they’ve been working towards building since late last year, McCutcheon said.
“Myself and Ed Jenkins spoke to the players about building an identity,” he said.
“It’s a term I like to think of as if you're a punter in a grandstand watching us play, how do you perceive us?’,” he said.
It started 3-4 months ago and I think with Andy Friend’s experience it’s something we can really develop and build a solid trademark...something we’re proud to represent and play for.”
“I really enjoyed how they could relate what they were trying to achieve back to team culture and team identity,” he said.
McCutcheon said that there were both on and off-field elements to that.
“It’s a bit of a combination also how you’re perceived as a player and also a bit about the character and the men we’re trying to be,” he said.
“We’ve got lots of young athletes coming to the Sevens program and we want to make sure their time when they leave they’re a better human.
“It’s a lot to do with character and that whole professionalism but I think the main ideas to create better people.
“You’ve got to build a certain amount of trust and empathy and give a little bit of yourself to get that amount of trust."
For stand-in women’s captain Parry, Adelaide’s mentoring strategies were something she took the most out of, with a broad range of ages in the women’s squad.
While Sevens squads don’t have quite the numbers of an AFL list, with close to 40 players at each club, Parry said they faced similar challenges.
With a large variety of ages in the women’s squad, Parry said the Crows’ strategies of including first-year draftees into the club could definitely be adapted for the Sevens.
“As our age group is very broad, we got a few ideas in terms of mentoring programs that they run and I guess ways of integrating their 1st year draftees,” she said.
“It was a really good insight into how they looked after their draftees and simple mentoring programs and stuff like that.
“Hopefully we can implement that post-Sao Paulo and get a few things rolling that will benefit the culture going forward.”
Parry said the experience was invaluable.
“You can’t buy someone else’s experience and they’ve gone through what we’re trying to do and they were all first year draftees once as well," she said.
Former Crows and now Sevens strength and conditioning coach Nick Poulos was instrumental in setting up the visit.