Joe Pincus: An Olympic medal shot with Aussie Sevens

Wed, 21/07/2021, 06:35 am
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
Joe Pincus has all the motivation needed to bring home a medal at Tokyo. Photo: Getty Images

Sevens star Joe Pincus headed to the Wheelchair National Rugby Championships in May for all the inspiration he needed to push even harder for his dream of an Olympic medal in Tokyo. 

It was no random visit on the Gold Coast but one to support cousin Conor Tweedy on his sporting journey out of adversity with the Queensland team. 

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Tweedy, 19, has taken inspiring steps since his spinal cord injury in a devastating scrum collapse playing Second XV rugby for St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace in Brisbane on this day three years ago. 

You’d love a footy team to work as hard for every little gain as Tweedy has done during his seven months prone in hospital and every week since. 

“It was definitely inspiring watching Conor compete in what I now realise is a pretty violent sport. It’s unbelievable to see what he’s been through and where he’s now reached,” Pincus, 24, said. 

“I keep him in the back of my mind, especially in dark training times. 

“His attitude is a great example. It’s easy to say you work hard but his improvements have come from sheer will when things definitely haven’t gone all his way.” 

Australia faced off against New Zealand at day three of the Oceania Sevens at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Tweedy will be an avid viewer on TV when Pincus and the Australian sevens team hit the Olympic tournament on Monday and Tuesday in Tokyo. 

Playing Argentina (11.30am, AEST) and South Korea (7pm) on Monday before an 11.30am date with fancied New Zealand on Tuesday is as good a pool draw as they could ask for. 

The top two nations in each of three pools advance to the quarter-finals next Wednesday as well as the two best third-placed pool finishers. 

“The excitement has been building ever since the team was selected and we found out our pool draw,” Pincus said. 

“The equation is really simple...finish top two and you go through to finals day.” 

With the World Series circuit cancelled because of COVID-19 over the past 16 months, Pincus is rapt the Aussies come into Tokyo with hard matches under their belts. 

“Having those six head-to-head games against NZ in Auckland and playing NZ and Fiji in Townsville in the Oceania tournament was really beneficial,” he said. 

“Both teams are No.1 in the world on their day so those games have reinforced what we have to do at training and at the right intensity level. 

“Those games also showed when we stick to our game plan, it works.” 

Rugby has been part of Pincus’ life since he was a kid but he didn't have a first taste of sevens until Year 12 at The Southport School on the Gold Coast in 2014. 

It wasn’t just girls who drew power from Charlotte Caslick, Emilee Cherry, Ellia Green and Co winning Olympic gold in Rio in 2016. 

“That time coincided with when I was really getting into sevens. It was massive,” Pincus said. 

“You see what the sevens gold medal has done for women’s rugby in Australia. It became one of the fast-growing women’s sports in Australia. 

“That’s the power of performing well and that’s our aim in Tokyo.”

Pincus is a pacy, versatile figure who can finish tries down the sideline or from an alert pick-and-go from the ruckbase 30m out. 

He's delighted that Lewis Holland is now officially part of the sevens team with squad strength extended to 13 players for all nations. 

“It’s great for the squad. Lewis has such a cool head and he’s probably the best passer in Australian rugby,” Pincus said. 

“It’s easy to say it’s medal or bust in Tokyo but we have a real belief we can get on the medal podium.” 

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Savvy coach Tim Walsh, who led the girls to gold in Rio, has established the right mantra. 

“Play without fear and finish with no regrets,” Pincus said. 

Being in the Aussies Sevens program since 2017 has taught Pincus how important doing the little one-percenters are in this hectic form of rugby. 

Whether it’s better rehearsing ball-winning leaps at re-starts or counter-rucking, they are just as important as the flashier sidesteps and tries that fans focus on. 

He’s all-in on this Olympic quest. 

He certainly doesn't have rent payments for an idle apartment in Sydney to worry about. 

He moved out before Tokyo. His economical lifestyle is locked in a car in Sydney with a surfboard, university textbooks and some clothes packed away in a box on four wheels. 

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