Hadleigh Tucker looks forward to debut for Bermuda at RAN Sevens Qualifiers
Hadleigh Tucker is looking forward to finally making his long awaited Bermuda debut at the Rugby Americas North Sevens Qualifiers in Nassau, Bahamas, on the weekend.
The 24-year-old’s aspiration to represent the island on the international stage was delayed owing to reoccurring hamstring and ankle injuries.
“I have injured both of my hamstrings, and my right and left ankle, on numerous occasions,” Tucker told RAN.
“They are not uncommon injuries. But it is still a struggle because rugby is played at such explosive speed, and the way I run and step means I heavily rely on my ankles.”
The ordeal forced the player to adjust his approach to the game both physically and mentally.
“After being injured, I was so afraid that I would not be able to play the same game as I always had,” Tucker added. “So I really had to take a look at how I take care of my body, especially my legs.
“I have definitely had an attitude change. I had tried to dive straight into playing after taking a break from the sport and my body was just not having it, resulting in injuries.
“I have had to learn that I can’t just jump into the deep end all the time, even if I feel like I want to. I have a new-found respect for my body.
“Because of my injuries, I have had to be more structured in my training. I have fallen into the trap before of killing it at the gym and overdoing it, but I am being much more sensible this time around.”
Having made a full recovery from the injury setback with the aid of a physiotherapist, Tucker is now looking forward to making his international debut and helping the island achieve its objective in the Bahamas.
“I am looking forward to getting out there and playing my hardest in my first game for Bermuda,” he said. “I want to score some points and win some games.”
The tournament will be held at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.
The event ― which includes senior men’s and women’s divisions ― will also serve as qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, South Africa in September, as well as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in July.
The top two men’s teams and one women’s team from the event will qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, while the highest-placed men’s team eligible to participate in the Commonwealth Games will represent RAN alongside Canada, whose men’s and women’s teams have already qualified.
Bermuda have been placed in group D which also includes Barbados, Belize and Dominican Republic.
They will kick off their campaign on Saturday against Belize in their opening round robin group match before facing Barbados and Dominican Republic later in the day.
Action continues on Sunday with consolation matches for the teams that finish outside of the top two in the group stage, which will be followed by the men’s and women’s championship matches.
Tucker says he and his team-mates are determined to achieve their objective to qualify
“We have worked really hard and I think we have the capability to take it all the way at RAN,” he added. “We have the potential to do great things if we just focus and believe in ourselves.
“This tournament means a lot to everyone on the team. A lot of people wanted to get to the Bahamas, so the selection process has been really difficult.
“For those of us who did make the team, we are very grateful and will make sure we are in peak form to do our best with all guns firing. We’re aiming to qualify.”