The Search for a Sevens Star talent identification days held across the country over the past month was all about unearthing tomorrow's Rugby Sevens stars today - no matter their background.
Seventeen year old Bellamey Sims, who lives two hours north of Melbourne in Shepparton, has always enjoyed watching the sport, but until he saw a flyer for the recent nationwide Search for a Rugby Sevens star initiative he had never played it.
“I had literally no Rugby experience prior to the trial; I have always watched Rugby and the Rebels, but never played before,” he explains. “All I had ever done was pass the ball around at lunchtime or outside of school, but I have always played basketball and AFL.”
Fast forward, and not only was Bellamey selected in the Rebels’ U18 Boys Rugby Sevens extended training squad, he has made the final cut and was also chosen as one of three Victorians to attend a 50-strong Australian Youth Rugby Sevens camp in Sydney late last month.
Tyronne Mitchell, Rebels’ Development & Elite Rugby Sevens Manager, was instantly impressed by what Bellamey had to offer at the trial.
“Bellamey came down to Melbourne for the Search for a Rugby Sevens Star testing day, and was one of the best forwards at the trials,” he said. “His fitness levels were very good, his strength placed him second amongst all of the players trialling, and his skill base was right up there; he was pretty easy to pick, and you couldn’t tell he was new to the game.”
For Sims, Rugby is a sport which offers so much more than those he has previously played.
“I like the versatility of players in Rugby,” he said. “You can be a big guy, whose job is to pound everybody, or you can be a small elusive guy whose job is to step around everyone; that variety is great. Another thing that is very exciting is where Rugby can take you, and the opportunities that are there, as well.
“My dad is a New Zealander, and I am proud of that part of my heritage, so I do try to incorporate that into everything I do. I guess my love of the game has always been inside me, even though I wasn’t playing it.”
Heading up to Sydney with teammates Robert Leota and Sione Tuipulotu for the two day camp, which included interaction and coaching from Australian Rugby Sevens Men's Head Coach Geraint John, further inspired Bellamey; this is no longer a ‘project’ for him.
“I can’t explain how much I enjoyed the camp; it was just so good,” he said. “To even get the opportunity to go was awesome, and we were treated like professionals while we were up there.
“It was an eye-opening experience of where Rugby Sevens can take you, and the amount that I learnt up there was invaluable. It really helped me get my head around the game so that now I can take another step forward.”
The RaboDirect Rebels may only be four years old, but already their commitment to the Victorian Rugby community is paying dividends in terms of exposing the sport to a new market.
Sims commutes to Melbourne for Rugby Sevens training twice a week alongside fellow Shepparton-based player Dylan Wagener, and though it is time-consuming he wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Commuting is tiring sometimes, but it’s been good that the program has started towards the end of school and once we are on holidays it will be a lot easier.
The hope of where it can take you, and the vision I have of going somewhere with the sport, makes it so much easier to come down. Having the right attitude is important, because you get home late, but while you’re here you have to make the most of it and train as hard as you can.”
That vision is well and truly alive in Bellamey, who is determined to see how far he can go in the sport.
“I want to take this as far as I possibly can,” he said. “To be able to already get to head up to Sydney for the camp was amazing, and I am going to pursue fifteen-a-side Rugby with Shepparton Bulls in 2015 as well; I have already begun training with them.
“Rugby Sevens is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and the challenge of playing a new game is so exciting. I just want to keep learning, getting everything right and take it from there.”