“We only have to beat a handful [of teams] but we can’t take any lightly,” Cusack said.
For Cusack, who played at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, getting to Tokyo is all the more important because he has unfinished business.
At the Rio Olympics, Australia lost their first match to France (31-14) and ultimately placed eighth in the tournament.
This time around the team is determined to do better.
“It’s hard because you lose one game and you’re done for. There are only three medals and everyone is going for the gold,” he said.
“After the last Olympics, I never thought I’d come back. But when [coach Tim] Walsh reached out, I thought it was an opportunity too good to miss,” Cusack said. “It’s one of those experiences that once you experience it, you want to keep achieving.”
“To put my hat in the ring I feel would give myself the best experience of a lifetime. So by doing that, I feel I am only going to benefit from that as an individual and as a person.”
A consistently strong performer with the Brumbies this season, Cusack initially found the sevens training routine a “shock”.
“I am gradually getting back to where I should be and where I need to be,” he said. “You have those doubts straight away when you see Joshy Coward or Trae [Williams] running rings around you and you go, ‘I can’t do this.’”
“As the weeks progressed, I felt more comfortable. Getting back into the swing of things is going to take time, so I just need patience with that.”
Cusack is not the only player settling into the new training routine. Several new faces are in this year’s team, including former sprinter Trae Williams and former Wallabies speedster Rod Davies, both of whom have signed two-year contracts.
The 2019 Oceania Sevens Championship will be held from November 7-9 in Suva.
Laura is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.