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Aussie Sevens coach drops captaincy bombshell in Olympics lead-up

“We know how they’re going to play, we know what we need to do to win. It’s just a matter of executing that. It should be a really good game to watch.”


Malouf has been one of the form players in the Australian squad, contributing to their Olympic qualifying win at the Oceania Sevens late last year.

He has been Holland’s deputy since his return from a season with the Tigers in the UK Premiership but Walsh has swapped their roles.

The 26-year-old, a forward in sevens, captained the team at the Dubai Sevens in December when Holland was still coming back from injury. It was a productive campaign that saw Australia steamroll the USA, Ireland and Scotland in the group stages before falling in the quarter-finals to a Samoa side galvanised by the Pacific Island nation’s measles emergency.

“I feel very happy and humbled to be able to captain my country. It’s a huge honour and one I’m really looking forward to getting,” he said.

“I’ve had a little bit of experience in Dubai but to make it permanent will be really nice. I really enjoyed Dubai and I’m looking forward to working with Lewy  and [co-vice captain Lachie Anderson] through the rest of the World Series.”

The 26-year-old said little would change on the field, with Holland stepping back to  concentrate on his individual performance.

“[Walsh’s] decision was just based around getting the best out of the team and individuals. He just felt this mix was the best for the team going forward and for each of us to get the best out of ourselves as well.

“Lewy still leads a lot of the stuff on the field and that’s his role, with all the experience he’s got.

Australia face Samoa, Fiji and Argentina in the group stages of Hamilton Sevens.

Australia face Samoa, Fiji and Argentina in the group stages of Hamilton Sevens. Credit:Rugby Australia/Karen Watson.

“He’s the strategist and reads the game really well. I’m overseeing it all and Ando  is a younger guy coming through  who leads with his performances on the field.”

Despite a solid Dubai campaign, Australia dropped to eighth on the World Series standings with a disappointing campaign in Cape Town the week after, making them the lowest-ranked nation in their group for Hamilton.

A new format being used in Hamilton and Sydney only has done away with quarter-finals, meaning only the group winners make it through to the semis.

Walsh will take one of his strongest line-ups to New Zealand next Wednesday, featuring try-scoring machine Henry Hutchison, Ben O’Donnell, Maurice Longbottom and Holland, with Super Rugby title winner Rod “Rocket” Davies named as the 13th man.

Australian team for Hamilton Sevens: Nick Malouf (c), Joe Pincus, Lachlan Anderson, Jeral Skelton, Jesse Parahi, Dylan Pietsch, Maurice Longbottom, Josh Turner, Lewis Holland, Ben O’Donnell, Henry Hutchison, Lachlan Miller, Rod Davies.

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