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By ARU Media Unit
With the success of the 2009/10 Australian Sevens campaign came the loss of many talented stars to the longer form of the game. The record-breaking year, in which the Aussie side not only claimed the London Cup Final but also finished the year in their highest position ever recorded, allowed a host of new Australian Rugby stars to be born.
These stars, much to the disappointment of coach Michael O’Connor, were now on their way. With nine of the 2009/10 Sevens crew inking deals with Super Rugby franchises, O’Connor’s squad was depleted when the new season rolled around. Captain Bernard Foley, his debut Ed Jenkins and experienced campaigners Shaun Foley, Brian Sefanaia and Dan Yakopo were all the man they call “Snoz” had to work with when he entered his first camp of the new year.
But where are those stars now? Did the infamous “pathway” to the top lead to greener or longer pastures for the likes of McCutcheon, Stannard, Jenkins, Quirk and Gill? Are they destined to take the field in New Zealand at the end of 2010? Which Rugby crowds – around the globe – are they now leaving at the edge of their seats with their exciting and enthralling abilities on the field?
Let’s have a look.
The former Australian captain is now well and truly a Super Rugby star. McCutcheon toured with the Qantas Wallabies on the 2010 Spring Tour and has already chalked up a handful of caps in the sky-blue jersey of the NSW Waratahs throughout 2011. McCutcheon’s ability in the ruck, hard-running and leadership are already being compared to his Sydney University and Waratahs team mate Phil Waugh.
The 2010 Sevens Player of the Year, Stannard, is now exciting crowds in Perth (and throughout the Super Rugby competition) each week with his energetic and elusive play. The pocket-rocket, who has started from the bench in each of the Force’s matches of 2011, is proving to be a perfect replacement for former Qantas Wallabies and current Western Force No.9 Brett Sheehan.
The brother of current Australian Sevens vice-captain, Jono Jenkins, was a member of the Aussie side for a handful of seasons. The powerful and explosive backrower proved a rock in the Gold jersey all around the Sevens circuit and is now doing the same as the understudy to Qantas Wallabies flanker David Pocock in Perth. Jenkins has featured from the bench for the Western Force throughout 2011.
One of the stars in the Australian side last season, Ed Quirk has been earmarked as a certain star of the future. Handed the Queensland Reds No.7 shirt in the opening rounds of the 2011 Super Rugby season, Quirk has been moved back to the bench in recent weeks however proved more than capable when matched up against the big-boys. At just 19 and already an Australian Schools, 20s and Sevens star, Quirk is sure to be a name associated with the Brisbane franchise for years to come.
Another who graduated straight to the Queensland Super Rugby squad, Liam Gill debuted for the Reds after just four rounds of the 2011 season. The former Australian Schools skipper and Sevens star has been compared to current Qantas Wallabies No.7 David Pocock at just 19 years of age and is a name you’ll be seeing for years to come.