Rio Olympics: Malouf miracle still on the cards

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Australian Sevens are optimistic that Nick Malouf will keep his spot in the Olympic squad, after yet another dramatic turn in his leadup.

Malouf has had the most rollercoaster of preparations in the lead-up to Rio, and a late setback proved another hurdle on Wednesday, when he tore his meniscus in the final match of a six-game series against Japan.

The 23-year-old went under the knife on Thursday, missing the Olympic squad announcement, though the surgery provided a positive prognosis for the forward.

Malouf was one of the stars of the 2014-15 circuit, before rupturing his ACL at the end of that season, ending his chances of fronting up for the 2015-16 World Series.

A training injury in the final weeks of his comeback had the team fearing the worst, but after initial concerns that he had ruptured his ACL again, scans showed his ligament was still intact.

That has proven the case again, after Malouf injured the joint this week and the whole squad is crossing its fingers that he makes it through.

Sevens coach Andy Friend has praised Malouf throughout his recovery, likening him to David Pocock in his mental strength, and said on Thursday that he would do everything to come up for the Games.

“That man's done so much, been so professional, he's left no stone unturned and gets to the second last game of our trials and something goes in his knee,” he said.

“Yeah, we can just keep our fingers crossed and hope that he gets good news.”

Lewis Holland and Charlotte Caslick are both heading to Rio. Photo: Getty ImagesSevens star Lewis Holland, who has shaken of his own injury-riddled history to be fit for Rio, said the team fed off Malouf's attitiude 

“Moosey you know he's been up and down, been told the best news in his life, to the worst news in his life, back to the best news,” he said.

“He's pushed really hard and we gain a lot out of him, just from a team perspective.

“He's always positive, regardless of the result.

“I think he'll always put his best foot forward for the team and always show a positive attitude which is a credit to him.

"Fingers crossed, there's always a miracle and hopefully he gets one.”

If he were not to make it, the door is still open for Wallabies winger Henry Speight to potentially step in, after making strong progress in his recovery from a knee injury, Friend said.

“Henry's recovery's going really well,” he said.

“Sammy Myers is still recovering well. You've got the other guys that came to Darwin - there's Tom Kingston, played Super Rugby, quality footballer.

“Boyd Killingworth has done really well this year on the world series. Sam Figg done very well on the World Series. All those guys came to Darwin with us, Stephan Van der Walt has played a lot on the world series this year, Franky Winterstein's had his chances too.

“My message to them is don't give up hope, you just never know. Until we get on that flight, until we actually walk out for that first game, anyone's still a chance.”

The Aussie Sevens sides leave for Rio on July 26, ahead of the August 5 Opening Ceremony.