Rugby Sevens Tokyo OIympic Games 2020: Australia men's team and tournament preview

Sun, 25/07/2021, 10:10 pm
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Maurice Longbottom is the main x-factor for the Australian side. Photo: Getty Images

The Australian men's Sevens side will be gunning for their first Olympic medal as they prepare to compete in the Tokyo Olympics Games 2020.

Making their debut in Rio, the men's side were knocked out in the quarter-finals by South Africa, eventually finishing eighth.

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With Olympic-winning coach Tim Walsh at the helm, they will be looking to replicate the efforts of the women's side as they push for silverware.

WHEN DO AUSTRALIA MEN'S SEVENS SIDE PLAY?

The men's Sevens side have been drawn in Pool A and will kick off their tournament against Argentina on Monday, July 26 at 11:30 am (AEST)

This will be followed in the evening by a clash with the Republic of Korea, slated for 7:00 pm (AEST).

Their group stage matches will be rounded out by a grudge match against defending World Series champions New Zealand on Tuesday, July 27 at 11:30 am.

If they manage to finish in the top two or as one of the two highest-ranked third-place finishes, they will qualify for the quarter-finals.

A first-place group finish would likely set up a clash with either USA or Ireland whilst finishing second would likely see a rematch of 2016 against South Africa.

Meanwhile, finishing third would mean they would face the winners of Pool A or B, likely New Zealand or Fiji.

AUSTRALIA MEN'S SEVENS SCHEDULE

Pool A: Australia vs Argentina, Monday July 26 at 11:30 am (AEST)

Pool A: Australia vs Republic of Korea, Monday July 26 at 7:30 pm (AEST)

Pool A: Australia vs New Zealand, Tuesday July 27 at 11:30 am (AEST)

WATCH EVERY GAME LIVE ON CHANNEL SEVEN AND SEVEN PLUS

WHO IS IN AUSTRALIA MEN'S SEVENS OLYMPIC SQUAD?

  1. Lachlan Anderson
  2. Joe Pincus
  3. Dylan Pietsch
  4. Nicholas Malouf (c)
  5. Nathan Lawson*^
  6. Maurice Longbottom
  7. Joshua Coward
  8. Joshua Turner
  9. Lachlan Miller
  10. Samu Kerevi*
  11. Dietrich Roache*
  12. Henry Hutchison
  13. Lewis Holland

*Denotes Sevens debutant

^Nathan Lawson was an injury replacement for Henry Paterson.

AUSTRALIA MEN'S SEVENS SQUAD PREVIEW

THE CAPTAIN

Nick Malouf steps up as one of the most experienced players in the setup, just one of three (Hutchison, Holland) with Olympic experience.

Malouf made his international sevens debut at the 2012 Dubai World Series tournament and has been a mainstay of the team for the best part of a decade.

He would have learnt plenty from their disappointing defeat in Rio and will be full of motivation to lead his side to the podium.

THE X-FACTOR

There aren't many players in the world who are as exciting to watch as Maurice Longbottom when he is in form.

The fast-footed 26-year-old has set the Sevens circuit on fire since making his debut in 2017 with his blistering pace and fancy footwork.

Longbottom has the capability to turn the momentum of a game on his head and Australia needs to find ways to get him involved if they wish to go far.

THE WALLABY

Samu Kerevi returned from Japan with one goal in mind: push for Olympic selection.

Whilst he left it late, the barnstorming centre has impressed coach Tim Walsh both on and off the field with his commitment and dedication to the code switch.

Given his statue, he will likely be used as an impact sub, however, his big game experience, knowledge of Japanese Rugby and brutal running style will be invaluable to this side.

Oceania Men's Sevens Day 3: Australia vs New Zealand

WHO DO AUSTRALIA MEN'S SEVENS PLAY IN THE GROUP STAGES?

NEW ZEALAND

Rio 2016: Fifth placed (Loss to Fiji in the QF)

Tokyo seeding: First

Last time we played: New Zealand 17-5 Australia (Oceania Sevens, June 2021)

A nation that Australia is more than familiar with, New Zealand looms as the favourites to take gold on the men's side of the event.

Entering as the reigning World Sevens, Commonwealth and World Cup champions, the All Blacks Sevens will be highly motivated to complete that quad crown with Olympic gold.

As always, they have named an impressive side led by co-captains Tim Mikkelson and Scott Curry, with Chiefs young gun Etene Nanai-Seturo set to light up the shortened format.

ARGENTINA

Rio 2016: Sixth-placed (Loss to GB in the QF)

Tokyo seeding: Seventh

Last time we played: Australia 38 - 7 Argentina (Hamilton 2020)

Argentina comes into the tournament looking to build off their impressive Rio showing, narrowly defeated by extra time by eventually finalists Great Britain.

On their way to sixth-placed, they would go on and defeat Australia 26-21, which will provide extra motivation for the Australians.

Matias Osadczuk looms as a major threat for 'Los Pumas', with the 24-year-old leading their try-scorers in 2020.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Rio 2016: N/A

Tokyo seeding: Tenth

Last time we played: Australia 52 - 0 Republic of Korea (Hong Kong 2017)

Korea will make their Rugby Sevens debut at the Tokyo Games and will be no easy beats.

They qualified for the tournament through a last-minute effort from flyer Jang Jeongmin in sudden-death extra-time against Hong Kong.

Jeongmin and the rest of the squad will be looking to cause a major upset as they enter with nothing to lose.

WHO ARE THE MAIN CONTENDERS FOR GOLD AT THE TOKYO OLYMPICS RUGBY SEVENS?

Whilst Australia and New Zealand are expected to be two of the main contenders for the medals at the Tokyo Olympic Rugby Sevens, there are plenty of nations pushing for contention.

FIJI

Rio 2016: Gold (defeated GB)

Tokyo seeding: Second

Last time we played: Fiji 19-7 Australia (Oceania Sevens, June 2021)

Fiji will be looking to back up their efforts from 2016 as they aim to defend their gold medal performances.

They enter the tournament in fine form, having taken out the Oceania Sevens Tournament over New Zealand and Australia.

Jerry Tuwai, the Men's Sevens Player of the Decade, will once again captain a squad brimming with talent, including damaging centre Semi Radradra.

SOUTH AFRICA

Rio 2016: Bronze (defeated Japan)

Tokyo seeding: Third

Last time we played: South Africa 19-17 Australia (Paris, 2019)

South Africa will be full of confidence after their impressive showing in 2020, winning tournaments in Dubai and Los Angeles.

Despite dealing with an ongoing COVID outbreak that has isolated their coach, they remain confident of going one better in 2021 as they search for a finals appearance.

With the likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith graduating from their 2016 squad, JC Pretorius will be looking to make a similar push after impressing since joining the program.

GREAT BRITAIN

Rio 2016: Silver (defeated by Fiji)

Tokyo seeding: Fifth

Last time we played: N/A

Having missed out on gold in 2016, Great Britain are hoping to go one better in 2021.

Their squad is made up of a host of English and Scottish stars and they will have a chance to get revenge for '16 when they face Fiji on day two of the group stages.

The immortal Dan Norton will be once again their main threat whilst captain Tom Mitchell remains a threat whenever he touches the ball.

USA

Rio 2016: Ninth

Tokyo seeding: Fourth

Last time we played: Australia 29 - 7 USA (Canada, 2020)

The USA continues to emerge as a genuine Sevens threat as they push for Olympic silverware.

Throughout 2020, Australia and the US traded dominant victories as America thumped the hosts at the Sydney event before the Aussies got revenge at the Canada event before the circuit was shut down.

Carlin Isles hasn't lost a step and remains one of the quickest players on the circuit whilst Perry Baker will be looking for Olympic glory in what could be his final Olympics.

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