Teenage backrower Simon Kennewell is the latest youngster to be handed the chance to push for a spot in Australia’s Sevens rugby squad for the Rio Olympics with selection in the 12-man team for the next round of the world series.
The 19-year-old and speedster John Porch were the new faces in Australia’s squad announced on Thursday for the Wellington Sevens on January 30-31.
New coach Andy Friend will watch from the Westpac Stadium stands before taking over the role permanently for the inaugural Sydney Sevens the following weekend.
Interim head coach Scott Bowen picked an inexperienced squad for the trip across the Tasman, partly due to injuries to regulars Nick Malouf (knee), Pama Fou (shoulder) and Pat McCutcheon (hamstring).
Kennewell and Porch will line up alongside four players who made their debuts this season – Henry Hutchison, Boyd Killingworth, Tom Kingston and Stefan Van Der Walt.
Backrower Sam Figg returns to the squad for the first time since the London leg of the series in 2013.
Australia, who are struggling in eighth spot in the standings, have been drawn in the same pool as Portugal, Canada and Kenya.
“For us at the moment it is about three key considerations – managing the workloads of players in the program as we look towards Rio, giving experience to all of the players in the squad while also looking to get World Series points on the board,” Bowen said.
“With a new Head Coach watching on before taking over and players pushing for spots as we look towards the Olympics in August, I’m expecting to see plenty of hungry players who won’t leave anything out on the pitch over the course of the two days in Wellington.”
Henry Hutchison, Tom Kingston, Sam Myers, Tom Lucas, James Stannard, Simon Kennewell, Sam Figg, Greg Jeloudev, Boyd Killingworth, Allan Fa’alava’au, Stephan van der Walt, John Porch.