Holland proud of developing Sevens leaders

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Lewis Holland will return to captain the Aussie men’s side in London next week, but the skipper is proud of the way his team has handled a leadership void in recent months.

Holland missed the Commonwealth Games and the recent Singapore Sevens with injury, with senior leaders James Stannard, Tom Lucas and Jesse Parahi all injured at various times as well.

John Porch led the team out in the Singapore Sevens final, with Holland proud to see the next generation stepping into that void.

Joe Pincus will make his World Series debut in London. Photo: RUGBY.com.au“You chop a tree down, four more trees grow,” he said.

“It's good for those younger boys to voice what they see and feel when your leaders aren't in there, but everyone's a leader in their own way, whether it's standing up the front or behind and getting around the boys.

“It was good for them to develop in that role but also get more of a bit of a responsibility around game plan and executing under pressure and those kind of roles, where they kind of get a little bit of a backwards seat when the likes of Chucky, myself and Jesse are out there rallying the troops.”

Holland is just one of a host of changes to the side for London, with Joe Pincus debuting, and Lucas and Triston Reilly earning his second World Series cap.l

Liam McNamara comes back into the squad as 13th man, just eight months after suffering an ACL injury playing in a friendly against Japan.

Coach Tim Walsh, controlling his second tournament since taking over from Andy Friend, said he was excited to see McNamara, who debuted in Sydney in 2017, back in action.

“I've watched Liam in the past and he just has so much time with the ball and he has great composure,” he said.

“So, really good to see him finally get back out there, which will be great and don't want to overload him with too much stuff but it's more of a transition, so see him maybe get a chance in London and then hopefully go out and play in Paris."

James Stannard is working his way back from a serious head injury. Photo: RUGBY.com.auJames Stannard is still on the sideline, with Walsh optimistic of a return for the World Cup in July, but admitted his recovery was an unpredictable one.

Stannard was coward punched in Sydney’s east on Good Friday, suffering a fractured skull, and though he is involved more and more in training, he is not able to do any contact work.

“I think he's a chance (for World Cup) but it literally is a week by week scenario,” he said.

“The number one concern and priority is Chucky's health, so we basically analyse him every day and he's taking some pretty big steps forward.

"He's offering a lot off the field as well, which is great, so no promises, no guarantees but we're doing everything we can to get him back and he's doing everything he can and then we'll make a very educated and sensible decision around whether he takes the field or not.”

Parahi is a chance to return in the final World Series leg in Paris, Walsh said, and will certainly be fit by the World Cup.

The Aussie men leave on Sunday for London, the first of the final two legs in the 2017-18 World Series.