Current Aussie Men’s Sevens captain Ed Jenkins has given a major tick to his regular stand-in ahead of a Hong Kong return.
Jenkins’ program has been closely managed through the 2015-16 season, giving playmaker Lewis Holland the chance to step up as captain in the 29-year-old’s absence.
The incumbent skipper praised Holland for his strong work and the spread of leadership throughout the squad that has been evident in the first half of the series.k
“It’s also giving Lewis Holland a great opportunity there,” he said.
“He’s been steering the ship nicely when I haven’t stepped aside and he’s been captaining the side really well.
“He’s got a lot of experienced players around him and James Stannard - he’s always there helping out, just like Cam Clark when I’m playing and a few other guys are always helping out at the same time.”
Jenkins will return to captain the squad for next week’s Hong Kong Sevens and said he was reaping the rewards of a balanced load, though he’s not made to be a spectator.
“My age isn’t going down at all so the load is a key factor in keeping some of us a little bit fresher obviously with that main goal being Rio,” he said.
“It’s always hard when you miss out on a tournament, you always want to put that jersey on and represent your country.
“The rest will do my body a world of good but it hurts a bit when you’re not travelling with the boys and missing out on some of these key tournaments.”
The rotation of the squad has unearthed some young talents this season, most notably speedster Henry Hutchison, giving them crucial experience on the big stage.
Hutchison (foot) will miss Hong Kong, replaced by Nick Cummins in the side, but Jenkins said the contribution of their younger brigade has been invaluable, with top-three finishes in the last three tournaments.
“That’s a big part of it (our strategy) - having these young guys being able to perform on the big stage and breeding them through the program and they’re getting experience at the top level,” he said.
“It’s good when we are resting players throughout the year these young guys have really stepped up and puts us in good shape leading into Rio.”
The Men’s Sevens travel to Hong Kong on Monday, for their second-last back-to-back World Series trip this season.
They sit fourth in the overall standings, 13 points adrift of third-placed New Zealand and that same distance clear of the USA, who will feature in their Hong Kong pool.