Maddocks turns World Cup disappointment into Olympic motivation

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Jack Maddocks has turned the disappointment of a World Cup omission into motivation to help the Australian Sevens qualify for the Olympics and the Test back says he’s learned a few massive lessons along the way.

Maddocks has been with the Australian Men's squad on and off since July, after assistant Stephen Hoiles reached out to gauge his interest, and has his sights set on helping the team secure their Tokyo spot.

The 22-year-old was on the edge of the Wallabies World Cup squad, missing out on the final 31 but training with the group right up until the beginning of the official tournament period.

He was flown straight to Munich from the Wallabies' training base in Odawara for his Sevens debut in, playing five matches in the Oktoberfest7s.

Since then, he has been training with the group as they work towards next week's Olympic qualifying tournament in Fiji, a preparation that has been an eye opener for Maddocks.

Jack Maddocks trained with the Wallabies in Japan ahead of the World Cup. Photo: WalmsleyAustralia must win the tournament to secure their Tokyo spot and where in Super Rugby and Test environments, schedules are week-to-week, the Sevens team have had this date, and their opponents circled for more than four months.

That long-term approach has allowed Maddocks to focus on building his conditioning for Sevens, in training blocks that are almost like mini-preseasons in their own.

“I’m hugely motivated...XVs is week to week, you're only really preparing five days for a game, whereas here the boys have been preparing almost five months for this one tournament,” he said.

“We know everything about the teams we'll be coming up against, everything about their players, their habits, strengths and weaknesses.

“We're really, really prepared, it'd be an awesome feeling to go over there and get the reward for all the hard work that's been put into it.”

The ability to focus on the goal of Olympic qualification, and spend more time in his home town of Sydney, helped Maddocks move on from the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup.

“I think had I had to go back and play NRC in Melbourne it would have been a lot harder just from the point...of having to go back to Melbourne away from family and friends, all that sort of thing would've made it harder but being here, being around my family and my friends definitely made it a lot easier,” he said.

“There's a lot that attracted me to Sevens - played a little bit in school and I enjoyed it, it also was a bit of an alternative to if I didn't make the World Cup squad which ended up happening,” he said.

“So, it gave me an opportunity to come in here and staying in Sydney was a big one for me as well.

“I've been down in Melbourne for three years now and a lot of time away from family, friends, I've got a girlfriend who's from Sydney so to be able to spend more time here, I knew a few of the boys as well. “

Being back in Australia watching the World Cup from afar wasn't easy for Maddocks, but as he looked on at various country pubs and at Sydney's Easts rugby club with Wallabies fans, he found a new perspective.

Jack Maddocks made his Wallabies debut in 2018. Photo: Getty Images“It's been hard, I guess, sort of, whether it be you're watching the game at a pub or something and you've got so many people around there who are so invested in the game. Everyone's supporting so hard, you just sort of wish that it was you over there," he said.

“I guess sometimes when I had my time in that setup because you're so protected from the outside world, I mean Cheik was great with that, he'd go out of his way to make us feel more comfortable, but I guess sometimes going in there you felt like whether it's overseas or something, you'd feel like you were in enemy territory and it's 15 of you or 30 of you verse them.

“Sometimes you forget the pubs and, whether it be TVs at home, everyone's back home supporting and I guess when you play for Australia, you're representing everyone and that's what it means to play for Australia.

“Sometimes I feel like when I was there I took that for granted a little, I felt like I was just playing with the 30 people in the room,” he said.

“I guess, being back here you want the boys to know how much everyone back home is really supporting them and them to not sort of lose sight of how much everyone back home wants them to do well.”

Maddocks will remain with the Sevens squad to the end of the Oceania Sevens tournament and while his movements for 2020 have not been finalised, he hopes he can play a key role in both the XVs and Sevens seasons.

"If they qualify for the Olympics, I'd love to be able to take part in that but I'm also keen to get back into Xvs and have ambitions in there too so a lot of it's out of my hands," he said.

"I enjoy plying both and I'd like to play as much footy as I can so if I can do both, I'd love to do both."

The Australian Men's Sevens play in the Oceania Sevens in Suva, kicking off on Thursday November 7, running until Saturday November 9, LIVE on the Oceania Rugby Facebook page.