BERRY’S Tom Connor, at the start of 2018, was just hoping to play for the Australian men’s rugby sevens side.
Fast forward four months and this year has already been his best to date.
The 25-year-old, in his World Series debut in January, helped his country win the Sydney Sevens, before pulling on the green and gold in Hamilton (New Zealand), Las Vegas (United States) and Vancouver (Canada).
Connor, last week, helped his side claim fifth at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
“Leading into the games, the whole squad felt great. We had been training hard and we ready to put on a show for our home fans,” Connor said.
“The group decided to stay in Sydney until the Wednesday before the tournament started, to keep it as normal as possible, using our own facilities and keeping our feet grounded.”
As well as wanting to win gold in front of his friends and family, Connor’s team also had extra motivation to succeed, following skipper James Stannard being ruled out after an alleged one-punch assault.
“When Chucky [Stannard] was ruled out, we were all shattered and heart broken for him, especially considering the circumstance,” Connor said.
“However, it brought the group closer together and gave us another reason to perform, because he couldn’t be out there with us.”
Connor’s Aussies, on day one, played Samoa, Jamaica and England.
“The first game match of any competition is tricky with people’s nerves and excitement – especially against an unpredictable side like Samoa,” Connor said.
“After defeating Samoa 24-7, we rolled through Jamaica 32-5 in a crappy affair, which is always the case against those sides who play an unstructured style.
“Against England, we were good in patches but in a game of sevens it’s all about little moments and unfortunately on this occasions, those moments went against us.
“In the sevens series, it’s so tight at the top and if you don’t play strong for 14 minutes teams will hurt you and that’s exactly what England did against us.”
After the 26-17 loss to England, Connor’s team was eliminated from medal contention.
“After the loss, we were gutted but like any tournament, you can’t dwell on what could have been and we needed to bounce back,” he said.
“So we turned our attention to Kenya because we wanted to send out our coach Andy Friend on a high.
“Thanks to the unreal crowd, we were able to first defeat Kenya (33-5) before backing it up against Scotland (26-nil) and winning for all the guys that couldn’t be out there.”
The Shoals product now heads to Singapore for the eighth leg of the world series.