Kennewell key to making the leap

by Sam Phillips

As a schoolboy star at Newington College, Simon Kennewell had the world at his feet.

Kennewell had plenty of options post school - as most Australian Schoolboys naturally do - and could have taken his career down any number of avenues.

But a session with the Australian Sevens squad, who were coached by Geraint John at the time, triggered a love for the seven man game which has seen him quickly become one of Australia's most dynamic players.

"I had watched (Sevens) a couple of times growing up and thought that maybe it would suit me as a player with that open space," Kennewell told RUGBY.com.au.

"It was always there and in my last year of school Geraint John, the previous coach, asked me to come down for a couple of training sessions.Kennewell has quickly become one of the stars of the Sevens circuit. Photo: Getty Images"I came in, enjoyed it and then I went from there.

"There was really no other thought after that - I knew that this is what I wanted to do.

As a 20-year-old entering his third year on the World Series circuit, Kennewell is the personification of the shape this Australian squad is taking.

It is a young group that has spent a couple of years picking up tips and tricks from veterans James Stannard and Ed Jenkins and is now primed to climb the World Series ladder.

They showed that in the back half of last year, recording a third place finish in Hong Kong after beating both New Zealand and South Africa in London.

The foundation of a world class team is there and Kennewell believes the squad will reach new heights in 2017/18.The foundations of a squad ready to climb in 2017/18 have been built. Photo: Getty Images"Towards the back half of last World Series there was a pretty close bond between the whole group, especially the touring 12," Kennewell said.

"At the start of the year it was a pretty new group post Rio.

"There were probably six or seven players that debuted in the first five or six tournaments so come the last three or four tournaments everyone had debuted, everyone had played three or four tournaments and everyone was more comfortable.

"We had a lot more belief in the group and that performance in Hong Kong where we came third, from there we had a pretty strong belief in the group and again we came fourth in Singapore.

"This year we have pretty much the same group so if we can continue the performances from the back end of last year into the beginning of this year we can hit our goal."

That goal is to make the Cup quarter finals on a regular basis, with the thought that anything can happen from there.Kennewell and the Australians have had plenty of preseason success. Photo: Ben Dolphin"If we can consistently make Cup quarters, make some semi's, the last time we won a final was 2012," Kennewell said.

"So our goal is to break that and hopefully we can do that."

On a personal front, Kennewell has been set a target by coach Andy Friend - become a 14 minute player.

"Moving forward with Friendy, I think he wants me to become a 14 minute player," Kennewell said.

"Previously I have come off the bench and tried to add impact - a bit of power and a bit of speed.

"Towards the end of last World Series I was playing 12, 13 minutes every game and leading into this year hopefully I can produce that again and then produce some 14 minute games."The Australians improved their consistency through the back half of last year. Photo: Getty ImagesIf Kennewell can do that and on a team front the squad is able to consistently turn red zone pressure into points, the World Series will have another consistent contender.

"One of those things that those top two or three teams have is that they're executing when they get into the 22," Kennewell said.

"One thing we are working on at the moment when we get into the opposing 22 is finishing and scoring.

"We work so hard to get into the 22 and then we get flustered and we don't produce points.

"Teams like South Africa, Fiji, England - they get there and always scored those points.

"If we can work on getting into that 22 and then scoring, we will be up there."

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