The Australia Men’s Sevens has named a strong squad for the 2023-24 HSBC SVNS season, with an experienced group of players complemented with a sprinkling of exciting new talent.
Back-to-back events kick off the re-imagined world Rugby Sevens series with Dubai taking place on 2-3 December, followed a week later in Cape Town on 9-10 December.
The season is a critical one as teams build towards the 2024 Paris Olympics which take place in July.
Nick Malouf returns as captain following an injury-disrupted 2022-23 season, while Henry Hutchison will make his return from an ACL knee injury sustained at the Sydney 7s in January.
The squad is notable for its inclusion of Wallabies legend Michael Hooper, who will make the full-time switch to the Sevens squad in early January – he is unavailable for the first two rounds in Dubai and Cape Town.
Ben Dowling returns to Sevens after a season with the NSW Waratahs, having previously competed in the 2021-22 season, competing at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Having just left school, Hadley Tonga is another notable signing for the program – the winger previously represented the Australia U18s in 2022 though missed the 2023 program due to injury.
Young Hayden Sargeant and Michael Icely are the other two new faces, with the rest of the squad having been central to the team’s automatic qualification for the Olympics last season.
A group of development players has also been selected, including Ben Dalton, Aden Ekanayake, Conor Hickey, James McGregor and Henry Palmer.
“I am thrilled with the group we have,” said head coach John Manenti. “We are starting to build some real consistency with the core of the group, while adding quality through some new faces.
“I am over the moon to be able to welcome back Henry Hutchison into the playing squad – an ACL injury always tests a player’s resolve to come back, and ‘Hutch’ has worked his tail off to get back.
“Hadley is one of the most exciting young players in Rugby – he is super-fast and extremely elusive. He’s only young, but I think he can make a real impact this year.
“It’s great to have Ben [Dowling] back too. He showed plenty of quality when he was with us a couple of years ago, and it looks like his time with the Waratahs has only helped make him a more complete player.
“Throw in the experience and skill of Malouf, Paterson, Roache, Paterson, Josh and James Turner, ‘Moz’ Longbottom, Lawson, Clements, Bird and Gonzalez, and we’re starting to see some continuity from year-to-year – which can only be a good thing.”
Watch every round of the HSBC SVNS series exclusive, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.
AUSTRALIA MEN’S SEVENS SQUAD – 2023/24 SEASON
Nick Malouf (c)