Braidwood boy Rio bound

A former Braidwood boy is among an elite group of the nation’s athletes busily preparing themselves and their squads for an August odyssey, with the summer Olympic games fast approaching.

Lewis Holland playing in Dubai as part of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens – HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in December. Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images.

Having fast become a stalwart of the Australian national rugby sevens side, Lewis Holland is renowned for his commanding presence on the pitch and recently skippered the squad, which includes the likes of former Brumby Henry Speight.

Originally coming from a classic 15-a-side back ground, Holland’s ascension to the top tier of the fast-paced format of the game was a surprise even to the footballer himself.

“I never thought I would play rugby at all, let alone at an elite level or a national level,” Holland said.

“I started playing in year six at St. Edmund’s and I didn’t really understand the game at all, I hadn’t really played, so it wasn’t until year seven or eight that I fully understood the game and started getting a passion for the game, and began getting excited about playing.”

Holland’s time at the rugby nursery of St. Edmunds instilled a love of football within the young pupil.

This eventually culminated in a string of selections, starting with the Brumbies Academy and ending with the national sevens side.

“I was at the Brumbies Academy in 2010, I had just finished school and then in January they were hosting a Brumbies side at the Darwin Hottest sevens and I was lucky enough to get selected in that,” he said.

“We ended up coming up against the Aussie Thunderbolts and from there I was asked to stay up in the Darwin and train with the boys and then from that, I was selected to go to New Zealand and Vegas the next week.”

“So my transition into sevens was not really on my radar and when it popped up, I took the chance and ran with it and I’m still here.”

With the rugby sevens international series still in full swing, and the Sydney leg to take place in a fortnight, the national squad is currently preparing themselves for a formidable fight in Rio de Janeiro come August.

“We qualified, which is obviously a great step, and now it’s just about putting together what exactly we need for Rio,” Holland said.

“There is still a lot going on and we want to do well, so I think a lot of time will be spent getting new players up to speed and getting some less experienced players some more game time so that the squad that is selected come Rio is a squad that has played a lot of football, understands the game, and is just the best team you could literally pick to play for your country.

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