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Sargeant scores with Aussie 7s squad call-up

Portrait of Hayden Sargeant

Hayden Sargeant never lost hope one day the phone call he’d dreamed of receiving since he first laced up a footy boot would come. 

That hope is what spurred him on through brutally hot summers of training, and the long grind of winter all athletes in contact sports can relate to. 

The Bull Sharks playmaker is in the Aussie 7s squad for round 6 of the World Rugby Sevens Series to be played in Los Angeles. 

A call from Aussie coach John Maneti last Tuesday had him hastily packing his bags to join the squad in a training camp in Sydney and his efforts on the track over five days convinced the selectors to name him in the touring squad. 

And with the nod of approval from his employer, Hutchinson Builders, the 25-year-old joined his new teammates on a flight to LA on Monday. 

“It hasn’t quite sunk in just yet, it is something you train so hard for and so long for, ‘’ he said. 

“I am pretty proud of myself to be honest and also, I’m super grateful to all the people who helped me, my parents and brother, my girlfriend and friends. 

“My boss was all for it too, he said he’d hate to think I would turn down an opportunity like this for work. 

“I have sacrificed a lot for pretty much my whole life to make this happen. I have missed family holidays, special events, weddings and birthdays to commit to my training or to play in tournaments. 

“I have worked hard and that has paid off.’’ 

Sargeant played at Bond University in his first season out of The Southport School before heading to Melbourne on a development contract with Super Rugby club the Melbourne Rebels. 

He excelled in their U20s side which led to selection in the Australian U20s that year. His speed and creativity caught the eye of the Australian 7s coaches, and he was soon signed on a development contract with the 7s program. 

Unfortunately, that was when Covid 19 brought the world to a grinding halt, and with borders closed, Sargeant’s ambitions of forcing his way into the side were also in lockdown. 

However, rather than be dispirited he adopted the mentality that they knew who he was and if he kept kicking goals on the field, the call would eventually come. 

There have been five different teams win each of the five rounds to date – including Australia’s win in Hong Kong. 

The Aussies sit in eighth place – six points behind fourth place and automatic Olympic qualification. 

They will take on Kenya, Fiji and Japan in LA and coach Maneti said although it was tough competition, he was happy with the squad he had assembled. 

“We have named a debutant – Hayden Sargeant – who comes from the Gold Coast and has been playing through the 7s pathways and Bond University Rugby Club for several years,” he said. 

Interim captain Stu Dunbar said the team headed to LA full of confidence after a first-class training camp. 

“Within our team, everyone is encouraged to be themselves and contribute in whichever way is required, because it takes a full squad performance to get onto the podium,” he said. 

That’s exactly what Sargeant, a Bond University Bachelor of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying graduate, intends to do. 

“I used to try to make everything perfect, but the focus for this trip is to not get too far ahead of myself, to take each step and each day as it comes and don’t miss the opportunities to learn and improve,” he said. 

“So rather than set a specific goal and then be disappointed if it doesn’t’ happen, for me it will be about ticking all the little boxes in training and preparation.’’ 

The Men’s team will play in Los Angeles on 25-26 February, before joining the Aussie Women’s team in Vancouver, where both squads will play on 3-5 March. 

 

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