If Harlequins playmaker Nick Evans considers himself over the hill when it comes to sevens rugby, the fly-half is deadly serious about the impact the short form of the game could have on the club’s young stars, writes Nic Sumner.
The 31-year-old kicked Quins to their first Premiership title last season with a team featuring a number of players blooded in the 2011 JP Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series.
Luke Wallace and Ross Chisholm played a huge role in Quins’ unbeaten start to the season and with this summer’s tournament set to kick off on July 13 at the Twickenham Stoop And Evans is convinced the Sevens Series will be just as vital if the side are to earn back-to-back titles.
“I was a bit of a late bloomer so I didn’t start playing sevens until I was in my 20s, but it was an avenue for me to get into the 15s,” said the experienced Kiwi.
“It’s fine for these young guys who can run around all day and keep the ticker going but for us old boys it’s a little bit hard.
“It is especially important for these young guys. Some of them don’t get to play a lot of rugby throughout the season.
“It is a great opportunity for Conor and the coaching staff to see how they perform under pressure and see how their skills react under pressure as well.
“So it will be great for these players to play in front of a packed-out Stoop and live on television. It could be the biggest games some of them have ever played.”
Evans is backed up by Quins director of rugby Conor O’Shea, who said academy head coach Howard Graham has a queue of young players eagerly waiting for a chance to shine and nail down a spot in the starting XV.
“We have got a lot of young players who want to go out and prove a point,” O’Shea revealed.
“We are going to blend that youth and experience quite nicely.
“We will structure them as best we can so they can represent the club in the right way. We are all looking forward to it.
“I’m not hoping they will give me a selection headache – I know they will.”
Graham, who deals with Quins’ starlets day-in and day-out, is clear on the benefits the JP Morgan 7’s Series offer.
“They are experiencing a high-pressure situation in front of a packed stadium and so the next time they play in that environment, like in the Premiership, they won’t be as apprehensive,” he said.
“There are a few players in our squad that could really impress. Ollie Lindsay-Hague has got a talent that you can’t really coach – he is an exciting talent and with ball in hand with a broken field there are few better.”
The JP Morgan Sevens Series kicks off on 13 July at Harlequin. For more visit jpmorgan7s.com.