Former coach Michael Cheika says he should have walked away from the Wallabies in early 2019 after Rugby Australia showed “they didn’t trust me any more”.
If Lewis Holland believed in luck, he’d be hoping for it to turn in the weekend’s rugby sevens World Cup after enduring a horror run of major tournament injuries.
But the Australian captain insists everything happens for a reason and a near-full strength squad has no excuses at the San Francisco showpiece.
Holland was a day-one scratching in Rio with a hamstring tear and was forced to watch April’s Commonwealth Games from the sidelines with a similar injury.
Both times the playmaker’s absence hurt a side full of potential that has at least realised it once this year in a breakthrough World Series win in Sydney.
“I don’t believe in luck, those things all happen for a reason, I’m feeling good now and the team is really well prepared,” said Holland, who this week re-signed until 2020.
“We’ve had almost a full squad healthy and training for three weeks and if we play the way we’ve been training, the way we want to, I don’t think anyone will beat us.”
Australia has every right to dream given the unpredictability of rugby sevens, which will be exacerbated by the World Cup’s knockout format.
Holland’s men finished a commendable fourth in this year’s World Series with South Africa edging Fiji by two points for the title.
Fiji boasts code-hopping try machine Semi Radradra and fellow France-based star Leone Nakarawa while New Zealand aim to become the first team to win consecutive titles.
But a Cup champion could come from anywhere and Australia, who play the winner of France and Jamaica in their Saturday afternoon (AEST) opener, will need to be ready.
“It can be brutal because every moment matters and you can be so close but so far,” Holland said.
“That’s why I love it so much; it makes you a better person and more adaptive in general.”
New coach Tim Walsh has challenged the side to improve their mental strength and the tournament at the waterfront AT&T Park will provide them a chance to do that.
“You see a team like Fiji just go for it every time … it’s like Russian roulette,” Holland said.
“We’ve got to enjoy those pressure moments, not be scared of them.”
Holland will pull the strings of an Australian side not short on firepower, with released Melbourne Rebels ace Henry Hutchison joining in-form Maurice Longbottom, John Porch and Ben O’Donnell as the key threats.