Captain Nick Malouf driven by internal, external competition ahead of Australia return

Wed, Jan 24, 2024, 7:32 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Nick Malouf is determined to perform on home soil. Photo: Getty Images
Nick Malouf is determined to perform on home soil. Photo: Getty Images

Captain Nick Malouf believes the competition is as tough as ever both internally and externally as he prepares for a home reunion.

It was only just over two years ago Malouf was one of just eight full-time players in the Sevens squad after a sizeable cut following the Tokyo Olympics.

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Sevens out of those eight players will play in Perth, with Henry Paterson set to rejoin them in North America.

Since then, players such as Corey Toole have established their talent and moved on to further honours whilst guys such as James Turner, Matt Gonzalez and Henry Palmer have added quality since their gradual inclusion.

"I think it's all part of the journey and I'd like to think the group that has been here has worked really hard to make the Aussie Sevens a desirable team to be a part of," Malouf told reporters.

"I feel like we're getting there, we're not the finished product yet but everyone that's comes in has equally contributed.

"...Instead of having 12 guys in the squad, we're building one of 20, which puts pressure on Johnny (Manenti) and Chucky (assistant James Stannard) to pick the side and I can tell you it's easily the hardest they've had to think about selection."

Malouf missed last year's Australian return with a foot injury, eager to play once again on home soil.

The 30-year-old hasn't played in the World Series in Australia since 2018, out to repeat their heroics in Sydney.

"It's been about four years since I was lucky enough to play on home soil," he admits.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere this weekend. We're looking forward to a lot of support in the crowd and I'm just excited to get out there."

Malouf understands the new format means they can't afford to be overawed by the occasion of playing in front of friends and family, with every game mattering as they build towards the Series final in Madrid.

"For supporters, it's fantastic because every game is on a knife's edge (but) as a player it's a little bit stressful but equally as exciting," Malouf added.

"We're a really quality side and we probably put that on show for three or four games in Cape Town and were lucky enough to get second.

"We've had a great training block since coming into the new year so we can be really confident with our preparation and looking forward to putting it on show this weekend.