Holland reflects on a hair-raising century

Mens - Las Vegas
by Iain Payten

With an overlap and simple 20 metre run against Tonga, Lewis Holland snared a place in history with his 100th career try in the Sydney Sevens.

But he’s pretty happy his first career try way back in 2011 isn’t as easily described.

Despite much digging, the tape archives haven’t readily given up footage of a just-turned 18-year-old Holland, scoring on debut in Wellington.

Which is just the way he likes it, given the style on display.

"I actually got reminded on Facebook at lunch time when I had a bit of a blonde hair going, 8 years ago in Vegas,” Holland said.

"I think my first one was over in Wellington. I think I went for a bit of a swan dive and I was a bit worried about how I was going to land so I pulled out. 

"It was a bit of a debacle, hopefully there’s no footage of that floating around.”

The style may stay hidden but the distinctive hair style didn't, at least. 

But perhaps that’s all part of trick to score 100 tries for Australia in sevens.

Holland joined an elite club containing only two others: former Aussie sevens skipper Ed Jenkins and another former cornerstone of the Aussie sevens team, Peter Miller.

A speedster hailing from Eastwood, Miller played for Australia between 1999 and 2003, and scored 107 tries in his 631 points; a record that stood until broken by James Stannard 13 years later. 

The former teammate of now Aussie coach Tim Walsh was the first player in the world to pass 100 tries in 2002; a mark that 40 people have now passed.

Miller stood out with his pace and evasion, but also for his wacky hair. Often he would turn up at a tournament with a new colour dyed through his melon.

Jenkins’ hair? The exact opposite of wild. Think Clark Kent, slick and perfectly parted, even in the middle of a contact sport.

Jenkins scored his 109 tries in 52 tournaments before injury forced his early retirement.

"They’ve both played a lot of games,” Holland says of Jenkins and Miller.

“They earned their own right in the sevens world to be able to cop up those hundred tries, so to do it after EJ is pretty special. 

"He’s a very powerful player out wide and used to get a lot of tries when I played with him so it’s something special.

"I’ve been playing a long time so I should have 100 tries.”

Walsh is an unabashed fan of Holland, for his skills and for the very fact he has been playing a long time.

Since Stannard and Jenkins were both forced out of the game prematurely, Holland has been Australia’s most valuable senior player; offering young teammates the wisdom of his comparatively old age of 26.

"To have someone of Lewi’s number of caps, and experience, is great,” Walsh said. 

"In any sport, there is a lot to be said about experience and winning experience, and Lewi is leading that area for us, and he is a very valuable part of the team.”

That experience will even more vital for the Australian men’s sevens team this weekend in the Las Vegas sevens.

After an attritional Sydney Sevens, the fifth round of the World Series sees Australia head into the tournament without Maurice Longbottom, Lachie Anderson and Josh Coward.

Holland was busted up in Sydney too but has recovered to take his place as the primary ball-player, along with Matt Hood, Brandon Quinn and Liam McNamara.

"With Moz there he kind of had a bit of a free ticket to do what he wants,” Holland said.

'He dances around and goes where he doesn’t even know where to go so Hoody and Quinny coming in, they’re the same. 

"Their very quick off the mark, good steppers, good on their feet so they’ll add that little bit of spark and I’ll just keep doing what I do.”

After a season of frustrating form that can see them challenge the top teams but lose games they should be winning, Holland said the Aussie men had to play their best football far more consistently.

“The consistent teams ... if you’re talking about one to ten they don’t go below a seven, so it’s about how can we stay, when we do play ‘bad’ if you want to call it that, it’s not right down the bottom it’s just a little dip in our trough rather than big spikes.

"It’s about getting that consistency around, so if someone’s off, other people have to be on. The team, moving forward, it can’t be up and down swinging in waves.”

USA SEVENS (all games on FoxSports and Kayo)

Saturday 

Australia v Wales, 10.00am AEDT 

Australia v Scotland, 1.01pm AEDT 

Sunday

Australia v Fiji, 6.52am AEDT