Australian sevens rookie Liam McNamara says the ability to soak up expertise from some of the Aussie sevens most experienced players while labouring away in rehab made him in a better player.
McNamara is set to be named on Friday in the Australian squad to play in the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco next week, after battling back from a knee re-construction suffered against Japan ten months ago.
The 20-year-old Queenslander, who made his debut for Australia at the 2017 Sydney Sevens, returned to the Australian squad for the last two legs of the World Series and got back into action in Paris, the final tournament.
The youngster is highly-rated by coach Tim Walsh for his instinctive skill and ball-playing adventure, but McNamara says he has come back as a better player after a stroke of fortune saw him joined in the Aussie sevens rehab group by some of the program's biggest stars.
Lewis Holland, James Stannard and Jesse Parahi were all among those who spent long periods in team rehab, and McNamara used the chance to watch, learn and listen about how to grow as a footballer.
"There has been a lot of experience in that rehab group at various times," McNamara said.
"It’s been great having Chucky and Lewi around, and having a different perspective. Sort of like a coaching point of view and seeing from a different point of view.
"You learn a lot about the game, so when you get back our there you have a couple of new tricks.
"You also get to see other people’s strengths when you’re watching (play and train), so when you give them the ball you know their strength. Then when you play you know their strengths, like with Jesse Parahi you know will carry hard and look for an offload. It does help."
Rehab can be a soul-destroying time for some but McNamara said he'd used the nine-month break to build up his mind and body.
"It was a long journey coming back but I thought of it as a long pre-season before the last two legs of the World Series," McNamara said.
"It was a great learning experience, on and off the field.
"I feel really good. I was lucky to get back out there in London and Paris and tour with the boys. It was really good getting back into it and getting that feel, so it’ll be good to rip in in San Francisco."
The Sevens World Cup kicks off on Friday July 20, running until Sunday July 22.