UPDATED: Business as usual for Malouf in Sevens leadership change-up

Mens - Hamilton
by RUGBY.com.au staff

UPDATED: Veteran Sevens star Nick Malouf says things will be business as usual for the Australian men after he was 

Malouf, who returned to the team in 2018 from a successful stint with Leicester in the English premiership, has led the team before in Holland's absence but he will assume the job full-time after being named as captain of Australia's team for the Hamilton Sevens in, New Zealand next week.

In a similar way he took over as captain while Ed Jenkins were still playing, Holland will shift down in responsibility but will continue to be a deputy alongside Lachie Anderson.

Aussie Sevens coach Tim Walsh  approached Malouf towards the end of 2019 to suggest a refresh in team leadership ahead of the Olympics.

Walsh said the move would enable Holland to focus more on on-field leadership with Malouf doing more other duties.

“Every decision around the team is around what's going to be the best for our team and that's around our performance and that's underpinning the performance of the team," he said.

"Nick's matured a hell of a lot since 3-4 years ago but since he's come on board now and we just felt the combinations which those three bring that Nick was best suited to being that communicator, that presenter and on field he's very stable and very consistent which is what you want from a leader.

"Lewi's still a leader, Lachie Anderson's stepping up, he's going to be a tremendous, he's got an incredibly mature head for a young man.

"It was just a shuffle, a change of role that was going to best suit the team and by best suiting the team it's going ot best suit those individuals as well."

Malouf said he and Holland would work well together, along with Anderson, in the new-look leadership group.

"I was comfortable with how things were going, i'd say even after the decision things haven't changed day-to-day too much, Lewi obviously with all his experience still runs a lot of the shapes on the field and I guess you could say he's the strategist or the tactician," he said.

"So, the stuff he sees on the field with all his experience is continued and I'm more just overseeing things from afar and nothing's really changed too much."

The Hamilton Sevens will be a tough tournament with the next two World Sevens Series events - including Sydney Sevens a week later - to go straight from pool rounds into semi-finals.

Australia must finish top of their pool to progress, and they'll face Argentina, Fiji and Samoa in Pool D.

Dylan Pietsch and Maurice Longbottom are both back in the Sevens squad after injuries.

“It’s great to be welcoming back Dylan Pietsch into the squad. Dylan has been working very hard following his injury and making sure that he is back in form," Walsh said.

“He adds, speed and ferociousness in defence that highlights his work rate across the park.

“There is a new format for us to contend with in Hamilton, but Sevens is all about adapting to the conditions and the whole squad is looking forward to putting what we have worked on out on the park.”

The Aussie men take on Fiji, Argentina and Samoa as the Hamilton Sevens, kicking off on Saturday January 25.

SQUAD

Australian Men's Sevens for Hamilton Sevens

1.Nick Malouf (c), University of Queensland, 36 caps

2. Joe Pincus, Easts (Sydney), 8 caps  

3. Lachlan Anderson (vc), Eastwood, 23 caps  

4. Jeral Skelton, Brothers, 16 caps

5. Jesse Parahi, Norths (Sydney), 46 caps  

6. Dylan Pietsch, Randwick, 14 caps    

7. Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, 16 caps  

8. Josh Turner, Manly, 2 caps

9. Lewis Holland (vc), Queanbeyan, 48 caps  

10. Ben O’Donnell, Randwick, 18 caps  

11. Henry Hutchison, Randwick, 27 caps  

12. Lachlan Miller, Randwick, 8 caps  

13th Rod Davies, 2 caps  

FIXTURES

Saturday January 25

11:25am - Australia v Argentina

5:35pm -  Australia v Fiji 

Sunday January 26

10:35am - Australia vs Samoa