Nerves a good sign for Aussie debutant

Mens - Hamilton
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Sam Croke is in a position no Aussie men’s Sevens debutant has been in for the better part of six years.

The 22-year-old, who is one of three changes to Australia’s squad for the Hamilton Sevens, joins the team fresh off winning a Sevens tournament, their first win since 2012.

Croke watched on in Sydney, unaware that he would be a part of the side just a week later, with Lewis Holland, Boyd Killingworth and Jesse Parahi out of the team.

“I was watching from the stands (in Sydney) and the energy was great,” he said.

“Definitely a bit more nervous but I think it's good coming into the big games and for a debut you need that element of nerves I guess.

“I'm hoping it doesn't muddle me up.

“Looking forward to getting out there with the fellas, coming off a good win in Sydney and hopefully we can go again.”

Making a World Series debut was Croke’s number one preseason goal, and to realise it is a chance he wants to make the most of.

“It means a lot,” he said.

“I set a goal at the start of the year, to get on the team and it's not always, it's a bit unfortunate for the guys who missed out through injury but that's a door open and I'm happy to take that for now.

“Oceania (Sevens) was a good chance to play against some top tier sides and looking forward to getting out there  on the world stage.”

Dylan Pietsch is the other new face in the squad, with Tom Lucas elevated from 13th man to the main squad.

Tom Lucas has been elevated to the main squad. Photo: RUGBY.com.auPietsch will be thrown into a new challenge by coach Andy Friend, set to play in the forwards, after two caps as a winger last season.

"We saw a bit of Pietschy last year, (he’s) a youngster with a lot of talent, a lot of speed, played on the wing last year but we've got him in the forwards for this tournament," Friend said.

“That'll be a challenge for him but I know he's going to cope with that.”

Friend said his team had moved on quickly from their Sydney win, shifting their focus almost immediately to the fourth World Series leg.

“it is new territory but just the way we trained then (on Wednesday afternoon) and just the chat amongst the group, they're not getting ahead of themselves at all,” he said.

“They know they've got another tournament, so we celebrated for about half an hour, just said, 'that was good'. And then, we've got another tournament coming up.

“Certainly, I didn't go silly with it. I believe the focus is there and I believe the performance is going to be there again.”

The Hamilton Sevens kicks off on Saturday February 3, running until Sunday February 4.

FIXTURES

Hamilton Sevens 

Saturday February 3

Australia vs Spain -  10:58am AEDT

Australia vs Wales - 2:24pm AEDT

Australia vs Fiji  5:50pm AEDT

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