Melbourne Rebels winger Henry Hutchison is looking to use the Hong Kong Tens tournament as an opportunity to press his claims for a Super Rugby debut.
Hutchison is in Hong Kong with teammate David Horwitz as part of the Classic Wallabies’ Hong Kong Tens campaign, while young scrumhalf Harrison Goddard has joined up with the Aussie Sevens team ahead of their World Series tournament this weekend.
The week is a chance for Hutchison to press his claims for a Rebels debut, with the Dewar Shield season yet to kick off in Melbourne, with the winger itching to earn a Super Rugby opportunity.
“I’m really enjoying my time in Melbourne at the Rebels, but it has been tough not playing,” he said.
“I do understand that I am essentially re-learning the game and it will take time to get to a level where I demand selection.
“This Tens competition gives me the opportunity to show (Rebels coaches) David Wessels and Shaun Berne what I can do, and I am really keen to have a run and show where I am at and put my hand up for selection. I haven’t played a lot of footy this year, but the club were keen for me to come and they really do want to give me the best opportunity to put my hand up for selection and break into the 23.”
Hutchison’s availability is more than handy for the Classic Wallabies, who have been placed in a tough pool ahead of competition kicking off on Wednesday.
The team are being led by former Wallabies Stephen Hoiles and Luke Burgess, while off the field the likes of Justin Harrison, Morgan Turinui and Bill Young are tasked with masterminding a successful campaign.
It’s far from a ‘golden oldies’ type tournament, and Hutchison has no doubt about the quality of opposition.
"UBB, who we play in our final pool game, have got five contracted Fiji Sevens players who are getting some game time in this tournament – the Tens competition is really used as a stepping stone for them,” he said.
“There are a lot of overseas teams who are here to win and take it seriously, and as much as we’re getting around each other and having a good time we are also here to have a crack and try and win.
“The Classic Wallabies concept is awesome and to see the friendships on hand and the gratitude from the players involved shows much it means to them. Wendell (Sailor) was telling me that he hasn’t seen Bill Young in 10 years, for example, but it’s like they saw each other yesterday and it is great to see rugby has created these relationships and is working to keep them there.”
Hutchison said it was surreal preparing to line up alongside players who helped him develop his love for rugby as a kid.
“I grew up watching guys like Wendell and Burgo, so it’s quite surreal to get to play alongside them. I don’t remember guys like Bill Young and Justin Harrison as much, it’s more my Dad’s era, but it’s very cool to all be together!”
After playing for the Rebels in the Brisbane Global Tens in February, Hutchison is looking forward to the action kicking off.
“The 10s was great in Brisbane. I think you need to treat it a bit more like XVs than Sevens, but I really enjoy the format and there’s genuine set piece, physicality and accountability. It’s going to be great.”
The Hong Kong Tens kick off on Wednesday morning, with all games to be streamed live online here.