Australia’s men’s sevens team has received another boost, after confirmation that captain Nick Malouf has re-signed for their Tokyo Olympics tilt.
The vastly experienced back, who was a regular tryscorer on the wing for Leicester Tigers during his year-long stint at the powerhouse English club following the Rio Games, is the latest to sign on for the campaign, which was pushed back a year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m really happy to be locked in with this team for our Olympic campaign,” Malouf said.
“There’s no doubt 2020 has created some unforeseen challenges and I’m not surprised how the team has banded together to enjoy the hard work and remain focused on what we can control.
“2021 is going to be an incredible year for world sport and we are going to be representing Australia with grit, humility and a never beaten attitude”.
His signing comes off the back of last week’s news, which saw livewire Maurice Longbottom sign on for the Games despite receiving offers to join at least Australian Super Rugby franchise.
Burgeoning winger Dylan Pietsch is another who will remain with the sevens team despite, too, fielding offers to cut his time short with the sevens program to join Super Rugby.
The trio represent the keys for Australia’s gold medal hopes at next year’s Olympics.
Longbottom gives Tim Walsh’s side some much needed X-Factor, while Pietsch and Malouf are classy finishers and strong in the air.
That finishing ability was demonstrated in 2019/20 as Malouf claimed the Shawn Mackay Award as Australia's best sevens player.
All three men are very much leaders too and speaking after the announcement Walsh said Malouf’s voice and developing leadership would be vital throughout the campaign.
“Nick possesses outstanding qualities as a player and represents us as a leader with his strong team values, authentic care and unrelenting pursuit to be better,” the gold-medal winning coach said.
“Returning for his second Olympics, we will benefit from his experience and maturity leading into Tokyo.
“Nick continues to grow as a leader after stepping up in 2020 and he has been instrumental in guiding this team through the challenges over the last few months and making sure we adapted to every situation with energy and humility.
“We compete in an unforgiving sport and we are after players and leaders with composure and self-awareness. Time and time again Nick steps up in the big moments on and off the field.
“We are so enthusiastic and positive about Tokyo and I am so pleased to see the program standing up to the COVID challenge in such a resilient and inspiring way. We are not just representing rugby; we are representing Australia in what will the most anticipated Olympics in history and will unite the world like only sport can.”
Malouf has won 40 caps for Australia since debuting in 2012.