Henry Hutchison: The long road back to Sevens

Sat, Jan 20, 2024, 3:53 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
World Rugby 2016 Rookie of the Year Henry Hutchison scores a great individual try against Russia at the Vancouver Sevens.

Sevens vice-captain Henry Hutchison has reflected on his year-long recovery after being named in the squad for the Perth SVNS.

Hutchison has not featured for Australia since damaging his ACL during the Sydney Sevens amid several injuries.

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The 26-year-old had already entered the tournament with a damaged wrist and broken ribs from Hamilton before picking up the long-term injury against Argentina.

He initially tried to play on, only to collapse in the second half, excited to be on the verge of returning almost exactly a year since the incident

“12 months is a long time and it’s been a team effort, a lot of hours have been put in by a lot of people in this building and outside. It’s been a journey and we’re really excited to get back out there and play," he told reporters.

“You have to break down into stages…it’s constantly two steps forward, one step back but nothing by support from the team, coaches, support staff and family and friends.

“It’d be pretty difficult to do it alone but I was lucky I didn’t have to so I’m here 12 months later ready to go.”

It was Hutchison's first major injury since coming into the Sevens program as a teenager.

With fellow Sevens star Demi Hayes suffering the same injury in Cape Town, Hutchison had some sage advice.

“Yeah I’ve spoken to Demi and she’s really early on in her rehab. I told her not to rush the beginning, I definitely made that mistake and learned the hard way,” he explained.

“…I think when you get your knee fixed, you have this massive spike of enthusiasm to get started and be like ‘I’m going to be the quickest to complete my rehab’ and the reality is it’s a long fight.

“It took me 12 months so sometimes less is more and it’s definitely the case for an early-stage rehab for an ACL and I didn’t nail that first time because I was eager to get my exercises done to get out there and start walking. The knee is really good at telling them when they’re unhappy with you.

“It was good for me to learn just to take a back seat and let the year slowly play itself and at the back end of the year I’ve caught up and it’s been really quick.”

Hutchison recognised the growth in the side since his last appearance, with the fight for a spot at the Olympics driving the competition in the squad.

Young stars such as Henry Palmer have impressed, with Michael Hooper waiting in the wings for his debut. Darby Lancaster has also returned for Perth, signifying further collaboration with the Super Rugby programs for Paris.

“I think every year the team and the circuit gets better and I’ve definitely noticed that. The training and intensity is higher than what it was when I did my knee," he added.

“We’re more mature and there’s a strong spine to go with the standards being higher. I’ve come back into a stronger team.

“I think they did fantastically in Cape Town and especially after the bounce back from Dubai. Obviously, we’re really disappointed in Dubai but our ability to just park it, regroup and come second is a pretty good performance and was really pleasing.”

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