Choosing Junior World Cup over a shot at Rio

Chris Ford Profile
by Chris Ford

It's a tough choice that few would ever have to make, a decision between representing Australia at the Junior World Cup or pushing for national selection at the Rio Olympics.

Winger Simon Kennewell chose the former, after a chat with Men’s Sevens coach Andy Friend.

“I think with my lack of experience in Sevens, trying to push for Rio would have been tough so I had a hard decision to make but I had a good chat with Andy Friend and Adrian Thompson (Australia U20s coach) and decided to come back to 20s,” he said.

“This year I was a bit unlucky, got injured early on and missed about six tournaments so far.

“It’s a good opportunity here at the 20s to push for a spot at the World Cup then go back to Sevens and hopefully onto the World Series next year and get some tournaments under my belt,” he said.

The 19-year old has been thrust straight into the Under 20s starting side for Saturday’s clash against New Zealand, a quick transition after admitting to being a bit “rusty” in his return to the 15-man game.

“Not going too bad, it hasn’t been too long since (playing) 15s,” he said.

“Not as much space obviously and that will be a challenge, which I like, so I’m looking forward to getting some minutes on Saturday and having a few runs.”

It’s been a rapid rise for Kennewell, immediately entering a professional Sevens program after only just finishing school last year.

“I think transitioning from schoolboys, or club or whatever it is, is a pretty big step up,” he said.

“Most of the boys here are stepping up, this (Under 20s) program is pretty professional as it is but it's a step up to the international standard.”

Australia is looking to square the two-match series against New Zealand when game two kicks off at 4pm on Saturday 7 May at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

The match will be LIVE streamed at