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By Tom Primmer
The inaugural Queensland Premier Rugby Sevens competition has paved the way for aspiring Sevens players to reach the elite levels of the game, with the best of the best now chosen to represent their state.
The four tournaments brought together the best Sevens Rugby talent in Queensland, with the finest players of the series recently selected to represent Queensland in the National Sevens Championships at Ballymore this weekend.
Two sides, Queensland Red and Grey, were selected, 22 of those drawn from the Queensland Premier Rugby talent pool.
One of those was Souths flyer Josh Coward, who was named the James Stannard medallist as player of the series in the inaugural competition.
Coward was contracted to the Australian Men’s Sevens side in 2016 and helped Queensland Red to the National Championship last year.
As a player with significant Sevens pedigree, Coward praised the Premier Sevens series, and the improvement in the standard of play throughout.
“It really showcased the talent of players in Queensland,” Coward said.
“As the weeks went on the competition really improved and got a lot harder as teams got into the rhythm of Sevens.
“It was a bit scrappy the first tournament but by the end all of the teams were on point and playing really good Sevens.”
Coward, who was selected in three of the four tournament dream teams, hopes to follow the pathway the competition has now created.
“Breaking into the Aussie side is definitely my goal.
“It’s been a goal of mine for a while and hopefully I can do it again with this new competition.”
Coward will line up under Queensland Men’s Sevens Program Head Coach Cassidy Holland this weekend, who also lauds the success of Queensland Premier Rugby Sevens.
“It was a great competition,” Holland said.
“It’s really exciting to see all of the Premier Rugby clubs working together and the competition can only get stronger from here.
Holland, who along with Australian Men’s Sevens coach Tim Walsh, watched all four tournaments and saw marked improvement from all teams throughout.
“As the series went on the teams started to really understand Sevens Rugby.
“All sides began playing to the extremities of the field and utilising the width and depth of the field.
“Players got used to playing with the guys outside them and built combinations, the improvement was great to see.”
The series has provided the perfect build up for the Queensland sides ahead of this weekend’s National Championships, with Queensland Red primed to take out the title for the third consecutive year.
“The guys have got into a good fitness regime playing just Sevens over the last few months,” Holland said.
“With that experience we can just focus on the one-percenters rather than fitness and playing Sevens in general.
“Our goal is to get both of our teams into the Grand Final like last year.
“We’ve got the quality to do it again and hopefully win our third straight title.”
The championships also offer an opportunity for players to push for further representative honours.
“Ultimately we also want our players to get contracted with the Aussie side and be recognised for their form.
“Sevens is usually dominated by the southern states, so it would be exceptional to see some Queenslanders recognised.
The National Mens Championships will kick off at Ballymore this Friday, with teams from Queensland, NSW, Victoria, National Universities, Tasmania, WA, Northern Territory, the Australian Defence Force, and the National Indigenous side represented.
16 FEBRUARY 2019