‘I wouldn’t change any of the boys for anyone’: Longbottom reflects on golden Hong Kong run

Wed, Nov 9, 2022, 10:15 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Aussie 7s are London 7s champions after taking out an epic final in London.

Australian Sevens vice-captain Maurice Longbottom is looking to continue his dream run of form after breaking a 34-year Hong Kong drought.

Longbottom was named Player of the Final after an inspirational performance against Fiji, setting up multiple tries, including forcing the deciding turnover for Nathan Lawson's game-winner.

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This capped off an electric day for the 27-year-old, twice scoring the winning points to keep Australia in the tournament.

“I’ve knocked off a few challenges along the way with the World Series and Player of the Final which is something I haven’t been able to do,” Longbottom told Rugby.com.au

“It’s a credit to the team around me for allowing me to play the way I’m playing. I wouldn’t change any of the boys for anyone.

“Something we’ve talked about coming out of the tournament is the belief is there that we can beat and knock off these top teams. It shows to the young boys the belief is here and it’s strong.

“Johnny (Manenti) set us a target of being a top-four team and being consistent which we did at the back end of last year. He challenges us again this year to be a top-two team and we’re on top so far.

“We just keep accepting the challenges Johnny sets and that’s what we want to do for the rest of the year.”

Longbottom and the side have embraced the 'misfits' tag as their rise within the Sevens ranks continues.

It's something familiar to the two-time Olympian, knowing the importance of silencing the critics and continuing their golden patch.

“It’s something I’ve lived with for my whole life so to me it’s second nature and I love it,” he explained.

“You can then look back and say everyone counted us out, the chips were down and now look at us, we’re on top and now what are they going to say because they’ve got nothing to say.

“You have to put it in the rearview mirror, everyone wants to come for us, we’re the world champs and taken out Hong Kong, but if we play our style of footy and don’t think too much about it, the rest will take care of itself.”

Making history remains at the forefront, with the Hong Kong title the first step in defending their HSBC World Series title, a feat neither Australian Sevens side has managed.

The return to Sydney and Allianz Stadium on January 27-29 is another big incentive following years of COVID cancellations.

Longbottom is the lone surviving member from the last event at the venue, where the Australians broke a six-year title drought with a 29-0 win over South Africa.

"To come back and play in the new dome in front of friends and family, I know it’s going to mean plenty to everyone in this team,” he added.

“Hopefully we can put together a performance like I know we can and the result will come.”

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