Rugby league was all Maurice Longbottom had ever known, but one taste of Sevens changed all that.
Longbottom, whose mother’s cousin Bruce was a 1989 Premiership player with South Sydney, grew up in rugby league heartland in south Sydney, idolising North Queensland Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston.
Longbottom fell in love with the Sevens game after playing, and winning, the Ella 7s with his cousin in 2015.
As spectators and coaches watched him slip through defences in Munich as the Aussie Sevens won the Oktoberfest Sevens, it was easy to see why.“t was just playing league on a Sunday for the Coogee Wombats and then I ended up playing in that (Ella 7s) tournament,” he said.
“My cousin just asked me to play and I just loved it.
“There’s just so much space to do my thing.”
Though he’s always had natural pace, a stint with Sydney’s Dream Time Academy helped Longbottom take that to another level.
Those improvements showed in Munich, scoring five tries across the tournament, setting up and scoring a try in the Cup final flogging of Olympic Champions Fiji.
“I’ve always been a quick kid growing up but I did a lot of training in off seasons and a good mate at Dream Time Academy," he said.
“That helped me with my sprint work and agility and I found myself a bit lighter on my feet.”
Though Thurston was his rugby league role model, he’s not looking to follow in the footsteps of any other players now that he has a crack at a full-time professional contract.
“I don’t really look at it like it, not try to be somewhere else and do my own thing and be me,” he said.
Aussie coach Andy Friend has signalled his desire to lock Longbottom in to a long-term deal with the national side, to take him through to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the 22-year-old, currently signed on a short-term deal, won't need much convincing.
“Before I started knuckling down and started to get into Sevens, I set myself a goal to get to the Olympics, that would be all-time,” he said.
“Even to play in the Comm Games (2018 Commonewealth Games) that would be unbelievable.”
“I’m looking forward to getting back to training and having a good red hot solid crack and worry about that.”
The Aussie men returned from Germany this week, and will start preparing for the upcoming Cnetral Coast Sevens, with the World Series to kick off in Dubai in December.