Longbottom locked in until 2020

by Sam Phillips

Breakout Aussie Sevens star Maurice Longbottom isn't going anywhere any time soon, signing a contract that will keep him with the team until the Tokyo Olympics.

Australian Men's Sevens coach Andy Friend has repeatedly described Longbottom as a special talent and anyone that has watched him play through the preseason tournaments would agree.

The 24-year-old has a combination of speed, agility and strength packed into a 170cm, 70kg frame that makes him remarkably tough to tackle.

Once he finds space a try is all but guaranteed and there was no better evidence of that than the Silicon Valley Sevens, where Longbottom scored a hat trick in the Cup semi final and the winner in the Cup final, all four tries a product of his freakish turn of foot.Maurice Longbottom has signed on until 2020. Photo: Getty ImagesLongbottom caught Friend's eye while playing for the Lloyd McDermott Development Team at the 2016 nationals and this deal is a show of faith from both parties, as Friend's side build towards bigger and better things following a lacklustre 2017.

"Maurice is an exciting young player and an admirable young man, and it is great news for our squad that he has committed to Rugby Australia and to the team until after the Tokyo Olympic Games," Friend said.

"People saw a glimpse of what he can do at the Munich and Silicon Valley Sevens, and I know he will deliver a lot of great things for this team in the coming seasons. 

"His different sporting backgrounds shows what a diverse and capable athlete Maurice is, and he is perfectly suited for the pressures of elite Sevens Rugby.

"Maurice’s long-term commitment to the Australian Sevens program is a testament to the strong team culture we are building as we prepare for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games."

Longbottom is all smiles. Photo: ARU MediaLongbottom's signature is exactly that - testament to the culture this team Friend is building.

There are signs they will be perennial Cup contenders throughout the preseason and while plenty teams show preseason form before faltering when the real deal rolls around, the continuity within this squad - along with the long term commitment of a player of Longbottom's calibre - lends one to think there are promising times ahead.

Winning is a learned behaviour and Longbottom believes the preseason success has the squad primed for a steep climb up the World Series rankings when the season kicks off in Dubai.

"The prospect of representing my country at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games was a really exciting one for me and is one of the many drawcards of Sevens," Longbottom said.

"The environment around the team and the staff is exceptional and we’re building a really good squad heading into the HSBC Sevens World Series.

"I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in and enjoying the ride ahead."

The Dubai Sevens kick off on November 30, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.