Queensland Premier Rugby 7s out to unearth next Aussie star

by Sam Phillips

The next Pete Samu is waiting in the wings somewhere in Brisbane and the Queensland Premier Rugby 7s is going to help find him.

That's the hope of the nine Queensland Premier Rugby clubs who came together for the first time today to launch the revolutionary tournament at Ballymore.

While playing reserve grade for Sunnybank in 2011 Samu was part of a Dragons side which beat an Australian Sevens squad in an invitational tournament.

It took seven years and a stint across the Tasman but seven years later Samu is a fixture in the Wallabies squad.

There will be many hidden gems in the Samu mould which Australian Men's Sevens coach Tim Walsh will hope to uncover when the series kicks off at University of Queensland on Saturday. 

"There are definitely boys who are untapped to Sevens who could transfer pretty quickly," Easts coach Sione Fukofuka said.

"I would like to think we have one or two in our group that have the physical attributes but just need to learn some more.Each of the nine Premier Rugby clubs will take part in the tournaments. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"I know speaking to (Reds high performance Sevens manager Lachlan Parkinson) that Walshy will have his eye on the competition as it puts our best group of players in that one space in the space of a day.

"In terms of talent ID that's pretty unique and it's pretty special to spend 12 hours watching the best talent in Queensland."

One of the main men behind the initiative is Sunnybank general manager Gaven Head.

He believes bringing the nine Premier Rugby clubs together and featuring three invitational sides throughout tournament will provide a prototype for the rest of the country and help provide a clear pathway to the Australian Sevens squad.

Head would know as Sunnybank produced current Aussie Sevens star Liam McNamara and former fixture Tom Lucas.

"Nationally this as a model... if it works Rugby Australia has leverage to talk to NSW and the other states about doing a similar thing," Head said.

Tom Lucas is a product of Sunnybank's 7s program. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"At the moment the Nationals as a one weekend tournament haven't proved to be enough.

"This will provide a pathway.

"The players can see why they are playing it.

"It's not just running around on a Sunday because there are higher honours to be earned."

The Aon Uni 7s tournament has already uncovered Page McGregor, Lauren Brown, Yasmin Meakes and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea.

That quartet will be mainstays in Australia's push for back-to-back Olympic gold medals and Walsh will be hoping this series can do the same.

The inaugural Queensland Premier Rugby 7s kicks off at University of Queensland on Saturday, streamed LIVE on RUGBY.com.au.