Lewis Holland says his end destination was always to play Super Rugby but he’s making an early pit-stop at Melbourne Rebels before next year’s delayed Tokyo Olympics.
The world series sevens tournament and Rugby Australia Sevens program has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Australia’s men’s players either training solo or looking to hook up with Super or local clubs.
The Sevens veteran, who played in the Rio Olympics, signed with the Rebels ahead of their Super Rugby AU competition round one match on July 4 against the Brumbies in Canberra.
The 27-year-old said he always planned to return after Tokyo to the 15-a-side game, which he last played more than five years ago, so was happy to have a early crack.
“I’ve tried to come back a couple of times but just through injury and other things it didn’t work out but I definitely had all intention to cross over and give 15s a crack after the Olympics,” Holland said on Thursday.
“But with coronavirus, this opportunity has come up so if there’s a bad thing I’ve found a positive.”
A former fullback or inside centre, Holland wasn’t given any game-time guarantees by Melbourne coach Dave Wessels, but is hoping to earn a spot in the star-studded backline.
While his fitness and skills were never in question, Holland, who was schooled in Canberra, said his “vision” had to adapt with so many extra players on the field.
“Just your general vision has got to change and instead of looking at the five to 10 metre range it’s very much one to two to five at the max so it’s about adjusting the eye-sight and trying to organise a lot more people,” Holland said.
“In Sevens you want to try and go forward and commit players and then try and find an overlap or one on one while in 15s a bit of depth and space and time is sometimes your key so it’s about finding that happy medium.”
Melbourne attack coach Shaun Berne was excited to have the likes of Holland, as well as fellow Sevens representatives Lachie Anderson and Jeral Skelton at his disposal.
“Lewie and Lachie and Jeral … those guys look for space all the time and as an attack coach that’s what you want,” Berne said.
“Those guys have been a bit of fresh air into our squad that’s for sure.”
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