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The Eagles kick off in Wellington in handful of hours, and returning to the squad for this leg of the World Series is Nick Edwards. The most veteran member of the current player pool, Edwards made the team for the first tournament under Mike Friday, the Gold Coast, but was dropped for Dubai and Port Elizabeth.
Edwards has led the Eagles in tries in seasons past, and he was a regular selection last year under then-head coach Matt Hawkins. But Friday has been fond of saying there are no sacred cows and a proponent of cultivating competition for spots. Edwards' omission the last couple of tournaments has been proof the coach means what he says.
“Nick missed out in a very competitive camp last time. We had a very straight, frank conversation about what he needed to do and what he wants – he wanted to compete – and how to go about that,” said Friday.
“You have to give credit to Nick Edwards. He got his head down and he got stuck in. He took it on the chin, and he came out fighting and he came back to make a point, and these last few weeks, and especially in camp, he did everything we asked him to do, and as a consequence you get rewarded for that. If he didn’t, then he wouldn’t have. So he earned his spot.”
Edwards has traditionally made hay on the wing in 7s. He’s done so not with blinding speed, but a superior stiff-arm and a knack for outworking and outwitting opponents.
“He’s not the perfect player. He knows that. He has weaknesses like every player, and he continues to work hard on that,” said Friday, “but his attitude and his endeavor to do the right thing for the team and to be selfless cannot be questioned, and he’s a positive man to have a round.”
In Wellington and beyond, expect to see Edwards in the forward pack. Carlin Isles and Perry Baker are entrenched on the wing, and Maka Unufe can slide out there, too. If help is needed in the centers, Danny Barrett and Zack Test can pop out.
“We’ve got plenty of options across the board,” added Friday. “His work ethic, his endeavor, his effort around the pitch is the sort of energy we need around the forward pack at different times.”