Simon Hunt wore the black, green and gold in the 2010 JP Morgan 7s ©© Getty Images
Rugby News Hunt: “Don’t take sevens lightly!”
England 7s and Moseley wing Simon Hunt believes the JP Morgan 7s Series is a fantastic opportunity for some of the younger members of the Saints squad to make an impression at senior level and not just the fun and games it is often perceived to be.
Hunt has been mixing pre-season training at Championship side Moseley with regular trips to Franklin’s Gardens, where he has been helping the Saints sevens squad with some specific coaching in the shortened version of the game.
Having played the seven-man game frequently on the international stage since 2001, the veteran of 15 IRB World Series events stressed that there is a lot more to the game than just running and believes the format highlights the strengths – and weaknesses – of XVs players.
“It is fun mainly because of the extra space and the fact that there are always tries scored,” Hunt explained. “You’ve got to be aerobically fit to cover that extra space though and it’s a game that you need to have good basic skills in. Handling, one-on-one tackling and rucking are key attributes and it’s a game that really does expose the basics of your game.
“It’s a chance for a lot of people to step up, but some also fall short so it’s a good test.”
For the aspiring Academy player, he adds, that is something that is crucial as part of their development and a reason why the JP Morgan 7s – a tournament in which he represented the Saints in 2010 - has blooded so much Premiership and England Test talent.
“It’s a great opportunity for the younger lads to get a bit of experience playing in front of a decent crowd and under a little bit of pressure.
“[sevens] does expose you but it’s also a great chance for players to shine. I’d say it’s a good pre-season exercise to get players back out on the field and it certainly isn’t being taken lightly this year when you look at the squads of Saracens and Wasps as well as Saints.”
Hunt’s presence at the Gardens is the continuation of the Saints’ close relationship with Moseley and the winger also spoke positively about as many as nine Saints players descending on Billesley Common once more in 2013/14.
“It’s a brilliant for both the teams and also for the individual players who are involved. It allows them to get a lot more game time under their belts in the Championship – a league that is getting better and better.
“You only have to look at the example of Tom Youngs, who went from on-loan at Nottingham to Lions hooker in the space of a couple of years, for the benefits.
“It’s a great place to get some experience that they can hopefully bring back and put into practice in the first team here at the Saints.”
Tickets remain available for the JP Morgan 7s at Franklin's Gardens. Book online by CLICKING HERE