Team motivates record-breaker Stannard

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Sevens veteran James Stannard became Australia’s most prolific points scorer ever on Sunday but he says he would give every point back for some team success.

Stannard came into the tournament eight points shy of Peter Miller’s 631 points and a conversion in Australia’s Plate semi-final win against USA took Stannard into the overall lead.

It’s a tally he says he has never really kept track of, though the record had been mentioned to him in the lead up to Wellington.

“(Fox Sports commentator) Greg Clark mentioned it the other day and it was the first time I’d heard about it,” he said.

“These records, I’m not sure who keeps them. They might have added a couple of points (to my tally).”

Stannard met Miller last year, with the 2002 Commonwealth Games representative visiting the squad ahead of their Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament in November.

And the playmaker is keen to welcome Miller back into the fold.

“He’s part of the Sevens family and the boys were wall pumped to meet him when we did,” he said.

“He came down and talked about the times he played and gave us a pump up before we went to the Olympic qualifier.”

While Stannard would be justified in savouring his record-breaking moment, even post-tournament, he said the achievement didn’t feel as significant as any team success.

“To be honest, it doesn’t really mean too much to me,” he said.

“I’d give that up in a day for this squad to be successful and start winning.

“It’s a squad effort, they score the points and I’m just lucky enough (to play my part), it’s not an individual thing.”

Peter Miller was Australia's previous leading points scorer. Photo: Stanley Chou/Getty Images

While the team-first mantra is regularly trotted out across sports, Stannard’s passion for the squad was clear when conversation turned to their Wellington Sevens performance.

A Plate final win and fifth place overall was the team’s best of theur 2015-16 HSBC World Sevens Series, with a relatively inexperienced squad.

Stannard captained the side in Wellington in place of usual leader Ed Jenkins and was gushing with praise of the new brigade, up against a hostile crowd in New Zealand.

“We’ve got a good bunch of blokes young blokes, who have got so much enthusiasm and heart and never give up,” he said.

“That’s what got us through. We need to up the ante next week and then in future tournaments.”

Their next outing will be the most anticipated outside the Olympics, with Australia fronting a home crowd in the HSBC Sydney 7s.

Stannard will likely be joined in the 12-man squad by Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper, one of a number of big-name additions to the side.

After their performance in Wellington, Stannard said a spot in that final 12 would not be easy to secure.

“Everyone’s been pumped,” he said.

“It’s your home tournament and you want to do well.

“There’s been boys training back home, doing some hard yards and everyone will be fighting a position for 12. “

And the best part about the upcoming HSBC Sydney 7s?

“It’ll be nice to not get booed.”