Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Matt Hawkins is preparing his team for the fourth leg of the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series: USA Sevens. Before the 2014 Olympic Residency squad was announced Wednesday, Hawkins recapped his team’s performances at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens and Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens and looked forward to the incoming players at the Olympic Training Center.
On Starting Seven changes from Dubai to South Africa
I think some guys were playing a bit better. That’s what it comes down to. It wasn’t purely strategic. It was based on form and who was comfortable coming out of Dubai. Obviously there were one or two injuries, slight niggles but nothing serious. A lot of it was down to form and who was connected and playing well.
On Carlin Isles’s performances in Dubai, South Africa
I think Carlin did all right. He’s still got a long way to go, but I think overall he did well . . .
On younger players on the tour
We’ve got guys like Pono [Haitsuka] and Zach Mizell and Stephen Tomasin on that tour. Stephen’s a sophomore or a junior in college, only 19 years old. He’s a young kid. He sort of had an up-and-down tour, but he finished well with two great tries against Spain and helped us win that game. I think guys like Pono and Zach showed pieces of brilliance, but at the end of the day I understand and they also understand you’re not going to walk onto that field and take over. It just doesn’t work that way. All the players these days take time to build into it and then they become something special. Then you’ve got to hold onto that and try to maintain that. These are all guys who we’re looking to see how well they can build but also what they’re offering right now. That allows us to go back to the [Olympic] Training Center and plan out what else we need to see from them and make them into a complete player.
On bringing in college players to the OTC
I talked to Tony [Pacheco] and he sent me a whole debrief on everything [from the College 7s National Championship]. We’ve reached out to some of the guys and, at the end of the day, we want to start pulling people through the college ranks and obviously the All-American program – the Men’s Junior All-Americans in particular. That’s definitely something we’re working on.
On preparing for USA Sevens
Our build-up is slightly different just because we get to be here for longer. Obviously we don’t have a plane trip overseas or abroad before this tournament (USA Sevens, in previous years, was held one week following Wellington Sevens). So that’s slightly different; it’s new to us. We haven’t done that before and we trying different things as far as that goes. We’ve learned some things over the last three or four months we always knew we were going to learn like where our squad’s at and how they’ve progressed or regressed. Now we approach that and make sure we get the right things done and focus on the bits and pieces we need to improve on to make us a better team come Vegas.