He may have only joined the England Sevens set up full time last summer, but Charlie Hayter has the potential to be one of the country’s leading players for years to come, according to former captain Chris Cracknell.
After breaking through in the longer format of the game, including gaining Premiership experience with Worcester Warriors and London Wasps, Hayter began training with England Sevens last June, making his debut in the European Grand Prix series later that month.
His swift progress then saw him named in the England squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, although the team missed out on a medal after losing in the quarter-finals.
This season has seen the 26-year-old strut his stuff on the Sevens World Series stage, playing in the five out of the six legs, with only a hamstring injury ruling him out of appearing in South Africa before Christmas.
His performances have not gone unnoticed by Cracknell either, who got to know Hayter well last summer before a knee injury eventually brought his own playing career to an end.
And with the chance of playing at next summer’s Olympic Games with Great Britain up for grabs, Cracknell believes Hayter is starting to find his feet in the sevens format.
“One lad who’s come on for me has been Charlie Hayter,” said Cracknall, ambassador for the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens.
“He joined in the summer, just before I got injured. I actually played with his brother, which actually shows my age.
“He was fantastic in the pre-season. He just picked up a few injuries. It takes 18 months to really get used to sevens rugby, the higher intensity and all the rest of it.
“Once he has got himself embedded and got used to the requirements of playing sevens week in week out and the training that goes with it, he’ll be a star of the future of the game, especially with that England side and the way that head coach Simon Amor wants to play.
“There are a lot of new guys that have come into the squad. Simon Amor has got a different way of playing to what the previous coach did but they are getting there.”
This year’s World Sevens circuit doubles up as qualification for the Olympics with England the nominated team when it comes to the host nations.
The side currently sits fifth, six points adrift of the required top four places for qualification, after exiting the most recent Hong Kong leg at the plate semi-final stage.
“Unfortunately they are fifth at the moment, they need to be fourth to get automatic qualification for the Olympics. It’s difficult," added Cracknell.
“That side has gone through a lot of upheaval in the last two or three years with new coaching staff coming in, players leaving or retiring.
“I worked under previous coach Ben Ryan when he took over and it took us 18 months to win our first trophy and hopefully with these guys they are not too far away from that.”
© Sportsbeat 2015