Holland set for first start since Rio

by Sam Phillips

Australian Men's Sevens skipper Lewi Holland will make his long awaited return from injury at the Silicon Valley Sevens.

Holland hasn't played a tournament since the Rio Olympics, snapping his achilles in October 2016 and medical staff taking all precautions in ensuring he is fit and firing upon returning.

Coach Andy Friend and his staff have now decided Holland is ready to rejoin the squad, one month out from the World Series opener in Dubai on December 1.

"I'm stoked for him," Friend told RUGBY.com.au.

"He's our captain and I made him captain after the injury and that shows you a bit about the character of the man.Holland will play his first match since the Rio Olympics in San Jose. Photo: Getty Images"He's a tremendous rugby player and he's also a tremendous leader.

"We thought he would do a brilliant job both on field and off and that's what he's done.

"We will look after him this weekend - we have been patient all along and that won't change this weekend."

Holland's inclusion in the Australian side leaves Friend with a near full strength side, with James Stannard still out due to a rib injury suffered in Munich and Brandon Quinn unavailable due to a corked quad suffered during the team's triumphant Central Coast Sevens stint.

Outside of that pair Friend has a healthy squad to choose from and one that is growing in confidence, having claimed gold in both Munich and on the Central Coast at the weekend.James Stannard is still recovering from a rib injury. Photo: Karen WatsonThe team is tackling San Jose with the best players Friend has available, with next week's Oceania Sevens a chance for the fringe players to once again make their claims for a spot in the 12 for Dubai.

"That was always the plan," Friend said.

"We made the decision to replicate what we do in the World Series, which is back-to-back tournaments.

"It's all about backing up what we did last weekend.Friend and his side are building a winning culture. Photo: Ben Dolphin"The boys that are here get their chance to show why they are here and then next week, the guys will get their chance to force their way into the side."

Having not won a World Series leg since 2012, Friend is pleased with the preseason success.

"I'm really happy with it," he said.

"The playing group are playing good footy, they're fit - we have been hitting some new PB's in that space - and we are starting to see some combinations come together.

"Our physicality is right up there at a level which can take on all the teams so we just have to keep showing that we're good enough every time we step onto the field."

TEAM

Australian Men's Sevens team for the Silicon Valley Sevens

1. Simon Kennewell, Randwick

2. Boyd Killingworth, Warringah

3. Tim Anstee, Eastwood

4. Lachie Anderson, Eastwood

5. Sam Myers, Norths (NSW)

6. Ed Jenkins, Aussie7s

7. Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team

8. Tom Lucas, Sunnybank

9. John Porch, Norths (NSW)

10. Lewis Holland, Aussie7s

11. Ben O’Donnell, Randwick

12. Charlie Taylor, Aussie7s

FIXTURES

Sunday 5 November AEDT

Australia v Fiji, 4.22am

Australia v China, 8.00am

Australia v Japan, 11.32am

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