Sevens: Walsh shaping Olympic squad as Malouf returns
New head coach Tim Walsh has added another piece to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics jigsaw puzzle, with the return of Nick Malouf to the Australian Men’s Sevens set-up.
Having played previously with the Men’s Sevens, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Malouf has spent the last two years plying his trade in the 15 man game with Leicester Tigers in the UK, where he featured predominantly on the wing.
But with several offers on the table to continue his European sojourn, the 25-year-old has opted to return to his homeland and bolster the ranks of a Seven’s squad that is seeing a few tweaks and embellishments under Walsh’s watchful eye, as he tries to groom a side capable of matching the heights achieved by his ‘Golden Girls’ in Brazil.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic year at Leicester, playing in the Premiership and against some of the top clubs in Europe,” said Malouf. “It’s allowed me to tick off some personal goals in the 15 a-side game, look at rugby from a new perspective and learn so much from the coaching staff and boys in the team like Matty Toomua, Manu (Tuilagi) and Taity (Matthew Tait).
“The time was right to move back to Australia and with the results you’ve seen this year, I’m incredibly motivated to help contribute to the growth and success of the Sevens program over the next few years as the team builds towards Tokyo.”
The news of Malouf’s return is supplanted by youngster Joe Pincus also committing his future to the Sevens circuit. Originally from the Gold Coast, the 21-year-old has been running out in the colours of Eastern Suburbs in the Intrust Super Shute Shield of late, and Walsh also sees him as another potentially key figure going forward.
“Nick is a proven performer on the Sevens circuit and his experience in the UK will no doubt be beneficial to his maturity as a professional athlete,” said Walsh. “His desire to return to the Sevens program after a very successful stint with Leicester shows the level of talent we are now attracting.
“The Sevens program is quickly becoming an attractive career choice for rugby players. Competitive salaries, world class competitions, international travel and the opportunity to compete at the world’s biggest sporting event, the Olympics.
“Joe is a great young talent too, who will come into his own over the next 18 months. We’ve tried to gradually introduce him but his World Series debut isn’t far away if he continues to knuckle down.”
The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team head to Europe at the end of the month for the final two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series in London and Paris, with the side currently sitting fourth on the standings.
Club: University of QLD
Australian Sevens debut: Dubai, 2012
Australian Sevens caps: 28
Australian Sevens points: 210 (42 tries)
Club: Eastern Suburbs, NSW