Malouf, Sevens primed for 'season defining' Singapore challenge

Thu, Apr 6, 2023, 5:09 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

Australian Men's captain Nick Malouf admits this weekend could make or break their Olympic qualification hopes as they prepare for a brutal Singapore.

Malouf made his return from injury in Hong Kong last week as the defending champions were knocked out in the group stages despite winning their first two games.

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“It wasn’t the weekend that we would’ve hoped,” Malouf told Rugby.com.au  

“We’ve watched all the games back and we’ve got some key points heading into this week. A lot of the stuff that lets us down is quite easily fixed. We try and move on and acknowledge the weekend but there’s not much we can do now.

“The big thing for us is our discipline. We gave away an extraordinary amount of penalties and a couple of yellow cards. We just didn’t have enough time with the footy in hand…if you don’t have enough time to actually score the points, it’s going to be hard when you are left defending for close to 14 minutes.”

The challenge only intensifies with a clash with South Africa set to open their tournament.

Malouf understands the importance of the match with the World Series leaders New Zealand also in the pool, with both sides currently fighting for the fifth and final automatic Olympic qualification spot.

The Blitzboks enjoy a two-point advantage with three events to go, with the contest likely to decide their quarter-final fate.

“We’ve got a challenging pool and one that could probably define how the World Series looks at the end," he said.

“It’s completely in our hands. One of (Australia or South Africa) is going to be in the bottom half you’d think if New Zealand continues the form they are in. 

“It’s going to be a spicy encounter first up…there’s so much to play for and this could be the game you look back on and the season was decided, particularly for those qualification spots.”

Malouf is slowly working his way back into the squad after an ankle injury sidelined him for the past five events.

“It was nice to be contributing to the team again,” he said.

“We had a plan around reduced minutes and getting me back because I probably didn’t do enough training as they would’ve liked. It was just great to get out there.

“I’d love to get out there a bit more but John (Manenti) and Chucky (James Stannard) will make a call on that but whatever’s best for the team.”

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