Jenkins in doubt for Sydney 7s

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia’s most-capped Sevens player, Ed Jenkins is looking for a solution to a recurring shoulder injury, likely to force him out of the Sydney 7s.

Jenkins missed a big chunk of the 2016-17 season, including last year’s Sydney 7s, with a shoulder issue, ultimately ending his year early to undergo surgery on the joint.

All seemed to be progressing well, but Jenkins was again struck down in Dubai, sidelined for the Cape Town tournament last month.

The 31-year-old is set to head to Queensland for a second medical opinion on the injury, looking to be back on the park consistently.

Aussie men’s coach Andy Friend said the next step for the former skipper would be clearer after that visit, but that it was ultimately simply a product of the tough game of sevens, with Jenkins a regular Sevens fixture for the past decade.

“He's got a shoulder (injury). We'll send him to Brisbane for a second opinion, but he's doubtful," he said.

"It’s the same shoulder he had surgery on previously.

“He’s got the most caps for his country and (there’s) just wear and tear on a shoulder, the game takes its toll. 

“These blokes, (playing) over a long period of time, it’s one of the consequences.”

While they’re waiting on Jenkins’s prognosis, the Aussie squad was back in training this week, straight after New Year’s Day, with the Sydney 7s just three weeks away.

One absentee from training has been speedster Simon Kennewell, who was granted special leave for a 21st birthday holiday with his family, though there’s no true break for him, with a summer program.

The men were shifted out to their former Narrabeen training base on Friday, with their usual field at the new Moore Park headquarters a carpark for the Sydney Ashes Test, but it didn’t faze the squad in their first week back.

Friend said the next generation were continuing to show their commitment to the cause, with Sydney around the corner, impressing in their post-Christmas training.

“We actually did a 2k time trial and had about seven PBs (personal bests),” he said.

“We we put a fair bit of trust in the boys when they’re away to hit the speeds they need to hit. At Christmas, they get a bit of time with their family but also a chunk of time doing work.

“They’ve done that and that showed in their times.”

Darwin’s Hottest 7s will be the next outing for Friend’s charges, a chance for fringe players to push their credentials for their home tournament.

For those at home, the focus will be on one key element.

“ We talk a lot about belief, individually and collectively, believing we’re good enough.

“It’s one area we’re trying to focus on. Most of the guys, it’s their second, third or fourth year in  the program.

“They know our systems, it’s just executing those systems.

“If we play the rugby we know we can play and connected in our thinking I know we can beat any team.”

Australia’s men have a good record in Sydney, finishing second in 2016 and fourth in 2017, and it’s a tournament Friend said they had targeted again, this time coming a leg sooner than in the past after swapping with the New Zealand tournament.

“It’s the one chance we get to play on our big stage on the home country,” he said.

“The players are excited and they’ve got their energy up.

“The last couple of seasons, it’s been a good stomping ground.

“We’ve still got the desire and goal and dream to go one better and try and win it.”

The 2018 Sydney 7s run from Friday January 26 -  Sunday January 28. Buy tickets here.