Farewell ‘Chucky’: assault victim hangs up the boots
TIME ran out for Australian rugby sevens stalwart James Stannard, but he leaves the program convinced it's in better shape than when he started playing.
Former Australian sevens captain Stannard said he would make a full recovery from injuries he suffered in an assault last March that ruled him out of the Commonwealth Games.
But he says there's no way he would have been able to make his swansong at next month's World Cup in San Francisco.
Stannard had planned to retire after that tournament, but quit early after failing to fully recover in time from the incident that left him with a fractured skull and forced him out of the Commonwealth Games.
"I was doing a bit of training, trying to get back for World Cup and the boys were away at the time and I started doing a bit of contact and upping the ante," Stannard said.
"I just started getting a bit light-headed and a few headaches.
"I just thought at that time, if I can't get through this light sort of training, there's no way in the world I can get through a tournament.
"It was a tough decision but an easy one because I can live with it knowing that I've given everything I can.
"My health adn my family comes before anything."
Dual Commonwealth Games medallist Stannard has been a stalwart of the squad for the best part of a decade.
"I just wanted to come into the program and leave it better than what it was when I came in," he said.
"It has done that, not just from what I've done, it's from how the program has progressed over the years.
"We came in a week before we went away on tours and now it's centralised and we've got contracts and people are making a living out of it."
He pointed to how several players had graduated from the sevens program to the Wallabies, including Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps.
The man affectionately known as "Chucky" is Australia's all-time leading international sevens point-scorer.
He's optimistic about Australia's prospects under recently appointed coach Tim Walsh, the mentor of the 2016 women's Olympic gold medal-winning squad.
"We're going to go well. We've got some good young talent there. Walshy has got a great brain for the game," Stannard said.