Who’s who on the HSBC SVNS 2024 Rookie of the Year shortlist

Tom Mitchell profiles the six international sevens rugby newbies in the running for the men’s and women’s Rookie of the Year awards.

With one trophy for players in both the women’s and men’s competitions, this accolade will be a hotly contested one. The award shines a light on the new faces on the big stage. However, one nominee in particular looks more familiar than you might expect. Let’s take a look at the six nominees for 2024.


Juana Stella – Spain

The livewire Spanish sensation grew up in Alicante. She has not often been on a winning team this year. However, her energy and confidence have been outstanding each time she has entered the field of play. 

Rarely has a rookie looked so fearless with ball in hand, let alone one who is only 17 years of age. The baby of the team this season, she has brought smiles and jokes off the field which suggest she is a great addition to the Spanish outfit. 

Ready to step up at the home stage in Madrid, Las Leonas will need Juana’s courage if they are to survive the relegation play-off.

See the HSBC SVNS champions crowned in Madrid, 31 May-2 June. Tickets from €10 are available to purchase here

Carissa Norsten – Canada

Hailing from the town of Waldheim, in Saskatchewan, a town of around 1,000 people, her first world tour might have been an eye-opening one. 

But it’s Norsten who has had people wide-eyed this year. Not only wielding a wonderful skill set and exhibiting attacking prowess, she seems to possess the sought-after ability to deliver when it matters most. 

Canada’s head coach Hanratty says Norsten, “loves a big stage, from winning a silver medal at the PANAM games in her senior debut to scoring the first ever over time pool play victory against USA in her first tournament”. 

Impressively, this same impact can be said of her on the defensive side of the ball as well.  This current crop of Canadian women has a number of promising future stars and the 20-year-old Norsten will no doubt play a big role in bagging some big prizes for this group.

Kaitlin Shave – Australia

Shave became the 68th player to be capped for Australia women’s sevens and started her HSBC SVNS career with a bang in Dubai this season, lifting the trophy in her first run out. 

The Queenslander was a decorated age-grade sprinter, taking the U17 Australian Championship 100m in 2017 with a time of 12.07, and was part of the Broncos NRL touch Premiership-winning side in 2019. 

The pedigree and ingredients were all there for a successful stint in 7s, then. Over time, as her confidence built, in part due to a period playing in Japan, she got her shot. Earlier in the season she said “I think maybe the old me would’ve been really nervous and have that anxiety before getting on the field but I think the more games that I’ve played, the more calm I feel ever before we get out onto the field”. 

Accumulating more game acumen as she has gone along, Shave has looked every part the lethal 7s player this season.


Henry Palmer – Australia

Palmer could become a walking highlights reel if he can keep learning. One particular finish in the corner at his home tournament in Perth was worthy of the season clips package. 

The old adage that ‘speed kills’ rings especially true in sevens. It’s valuable currency in the game and Palmer embodies it through and through. He needs just a whiff of open space and he’s gone, all the way to the tryline. A student of the game, if this young Aussie can continue to learn and improve he could become a real gun for the green and gold men in years to come.

Quewin Nortje – South Africa

This young man got his HSBC SVNS career off to a dream start by claiming the Dubai 7s title with his new Blitzbokke buddies. During the tournament he spoke of his welcome to the squad by saying: “It’s a dream to play alongside some of the greats. The way they help you at training and especially in games.” 

Learning from those who have gone before is an important lesson for any first timer. While Nortje’s outrageous pace is his obvious strength, his willingness to learn and improve have placed him amongst the top debutants from this season.

Antoine Dupont – France

At 27 years old, Dupont enters the Rookie race as one of the oldest to have ever been nominated. But I think he is perhaps the most decorated. If he bags this accolade, I like to think it will sit proudly on his busy mantlepiece alongside his recent European Champions Cup medal.

Antoine Dupont made his debut in Vancouver this year and already his impact has been undeniable. His face was all over the SVNS highlights and socials but it was more than just promo material. He helped his team get to their first title in 19 years. He did this through involvements on both sides of the ball, tackling and jackling, assisting and scoring. Dupont had to learn some new ropes this year but he looked ready made for the shorter form of the game. A rookie by statistics only, the very second he set foot on the sevens field he looked a total master.

See the HSBC SVNS champions crowned in Madrid, 31 May-2 June. Tickets from €10 are available to purchase here