Longbottom out to rebuild Sevens identity after Olympics disappointment

Tue, 09/11/2021, 05:53 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Australia faced off against Oceania at day three of the Oceania Sevens at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

After a tough Olympic campaign, men's Sevens vice-captain Maurice Longbottom is out to rebuild the identity of the Sevens side as they prepare to re-enter the Sevens circuit.

The men's side finished seventh at the Tokyo Olympics in July, never recovering after a slow start to the tournament saw them drop their first game against Argentina.

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Two further losses to finalists New Zealand and gold medalists Fiji, as well as a defeat in the 5th-8th playoff to South Africa, saw the Australian side finish seventh.

Whilst a narrow improvement from their inaugural campaign in 2016, it was far from the standard set by Tim Walsh's side, who was pushing for a spot on the podium before the Games.

This was something Longbottom was eager to show when they make their return to the World Sevens Series in Dubai on November 26 after missing the previous rounds in September due to COVID.

“I know that wasn’t our standards and that’s something I’m determined to go out and prove that we’re better than what we served in Tokyo,” he told reporters.

“…We’ve rebuilt our culture, thrown a lot of things out and brought a lot in, especially with players, we’ve got a lot of new faces.

“I think Dubai will be really good for us. If we can get a good start, it’ll build a lot of confidence for a couple of young blokes which is exciting.

“We’ve been stuck playing against NSW, Queensland teams which aren’t your usual World Series athletes so it makes us super hungry to get out which is exciting.”

This comes as the Sevens sides launch Gold and First Nations jerseys, further aligning themselves with the Wallabies and Wallaroos.

The Australian Sevens sides have confirmed new jerseys for the World Series. Photo: Rugby Australia/ Harrison Wakeling

For Longbottom, a proud Dharawal man, the introduction of the First Nations kit was years in the making.

Having adopted Indigenous art into his boots for the Olympics, the adoption of the jersey as Australia's alternate kit for the Series far exceeded initial pushes to simply have it for a game or two for the Sydney leg.

“It’s a pretty special moment for us as a Sevens program,” Longbottom said.

“It's something that myself and a couple of ex Indigenous players here have been pushing for a few years so to finally have it here is pretty special.

“To see the Wallabies have it, that was something we were like ‘if they can do it, what about something for us to play in Sydney for a game or two.’ That was the snowball effect at the start and having it now here (as an alternate kit) is pretty special.

“We’re pretty excited to hopefully roll it out in Dubai, which would be awesome.”

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