Sevens rugby pair earn World Series debuts

Australian rugby sevens coach Andy Friend says World Series debutante Maurice Longbottom gives his side what every good team needs.

The newcomer will be a marked man when he runs on next Friday in Dubai’s series opener, but the coach is backing the elusive speedster to handle the occasion.

The Australians go in with fine form, having won the pre-season Oktoberfest and Silicon Valley sevens crowns.

Longbottom, who earlier this week committed to a three-year deal, was central in both campaigns to quickly become a key piece of Friend’s arsenal.

It continues an incredible rise for the former South Sydney rugby league junior, plucked 12 months ago from a regional sevens tournament.

Given his penchant for long-range tries, Friend is expecting Longbottom to be double-teamed in games against Wales, Russia and Fiji – something that will only help his side.

“What he offers is a genuine threat,” Friend said.

“You’ve got to put two on him and that gives you a numerical advantage.

“It’s a point of difference, something every good team has and something we have rarely had.”

Friend said Longbottom’s next challenge would be to respond to sides who had been watching game tapes to try to find a way to stop him.

“The more you play, the more people try to work you out, so it’s just another test,” Friend said.

Randwick’s Ben O’Donnell is the other debutant in the 12-man squad that features Ed Jenkins and the returning Lewis Holland.

The coach said all the good work that had contributed to their pre-season success would be for nothing if they didn’t deliver on December 1 “in the real stuff”.

“We’ve learned how to win, and done it in a variety of ways,” he said.

“So we’ve got great confidence in our own ability and have to maintain that.”

Australian men’s sevens squad:

Lachlan Anderson, Tim Anstee, Lewis Holland, Ed Jenkins, Simon Kennewell, Boyd Killingworth, Sam Myers, Ben O’Donnell, John Porch, James Stannard, Matthew Hood.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!