Watch Ben O’Donnell, fulback for the Australian Rugby Sevens team, take to the pitch at the Singapore National Stadium this April.
Tell us a little about your journey in Rugby Sevens as you’ve only been in the programme a short while.
My Sevens career is still only fresh, playing my first game just over a year ago. Since joining the programme the greatest difference (post switch from 15’s) has to be the physical change. You’re using a whole new energy system to keep throwing yourself around the field to make up the space that eight other players usually fill up in the 15s game.
What is the one aspect of playing that you love the most?
Rugby in general, is a sport that really relies on every member of the team. The opportunity to run around every day with your best mates all over the globe… it’s a pretty tough gig…
How do you prepare for a major international tournament?
Prep’ for the World Series is a gruelling combination of running, analysing oppositions, running, rehabbing post injuries, running, learning/creating new tactics and did I say running?
Our coaching staff are at the cutting edge and they’re the ones behind the curtain keeping all the players fit, healthy and ready to play. They do everything they can to prepare us for tournaments both physically and mentally. We’ll use facilities like the dreaded Heat Chamber, where the temperature is cranked up to +38 degrees and the humidity at a very wet 95% minimum, to help prep for the Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney and definitely the Singapore legs.
What do you think makes the Sevens so popular for spectators?
It’s the chance to see the most entertaining parts and most skilful players of rugby, all thrown together by 16 of the best professional rugby nations and all squeezed into two days of non-stop action.
Who are likely to be your toughest competition in the Singapore tournament?
History shows that Singapore is the tournament where form means nothing. We’ve seen the likes of Kenya and Canada take out the Cup in the last two years, meaning everyone’s a threat and we won’t be taking any teams lightly.
Do you have a role model?
Hard to look past my old man, but since joining the Au7’s, Chucky Stannard has been easy to look up to and follow. Whether it be on the field running himself into the ground or off the field either when he’s looking after his body by always ice bathing, or engaging with the fans (Not at the same time obviously…). Or Happy Gilmore, a man who against all adversity after changing sports, went on to beat Shooter McGavin (reigning number 1) in the 1996 Waterbury Open.
What are your interests away from the pitch?
When I’m avoiding class and extending out my Sport & Exercise Management Degree, I’m usually found on the sand. Both the sand of the beautiful east Aussie beaches and the sand of the bunker either side of the golf green I’ve missed… again.
Have you spent much time in Singapore?
It will be my first venture to Singapore. I’m looking forward to checking out Marina Bay and some cultural eating. Not looking forward to sweating buckets in the harsh humidity.
What can ANZA members expect from you and your teammates?
ANZA should be looking forward to seeing a mix of unrelenting, clinical and united Ra-Ra running rugby from the Green and Gold.
HSBC WORLD RUGBY SINGAPORE SEVENS, SINGAPORE NATIONAL STADIUM
28 & 29 APRIL