With the Sydney Sevens even less than a fortnight away, and Super Rugby kicking off two weeks after that, the 2019 Australian Rugby season is well and truly upon us.
With that in mind, RUPA reached out to all of the current and former players on our Board to find out their thoughts on the year ahead; today, we hear from Australian Men's Rugby Sevens Player Director, Lewis Holland.
Lewy, what are you most excited about, from an Australian Rugby perspective, in 2019?
“With the Sevens programs, it's a qualifying year for the Olympic Games in Tokyo (2020) with the top four teams on both the Men's and Women's World Rugby Sevens series securing their place.
"From that side of things, we're looking forward to getting out there and performing at every tournament, and with the Sydney Sevens coming up that was such a great tournament for the Men's and Women's squads last year that's another big ticket item for us.
"Super Rugby wise, off the back of last year the players are just wanting to get out there and show what they can do. They want to prove a lot of people wrong, because in Australia we have some of the best players and coaches in the world, so I think the players are keen to get it all moving in the right direction."
Which Australian player(s) are you most looking forward to watching in action this year, and why?
“Within the Sevens program you've got Maurice Longbottom, who is still relatively new to Rugby but keeps getting better from tournament to tournament and no doubt with his dazzling footwork he'll have a few highlight reels.
"I'm also looking forward to watching Quade Cooper get back out there in Super Rugby. He's a very exciting player, one of the best in the world and leaves everything out there, and he's not afraid to push the envelope. The Rebels have the perfect backline to accommodate him, so no doubt they'll be an exciting team to watch this year.
What does serving on the RUPA Board mean to you?
"Having a better idea of where the game is heading, and having the ability to have a say in the direction on behalf of the players, is so important.
"Buying into the game that you play and love is something that you don't necessarily get to do in every job, so from that sense being able to understand what's happening behind closed doors and how Rugby can help people that isn't necessarily public knowledge."
What do you think is the single most pressing issue facing Australian Rugby heading into 2019?
“I think from a playing perspective, it's just consistency on the field, right across from both Men's and Women's Rugby Sevens to Super Rugby, Wallabies and Wallaroos.
"We just need to keep moving in the right direction, and we need to avoid taking shortcuts. The players and coaches have a responsibility to do their part to realise the vision of where we all want to go to, and everybody needs to work as one to get the results."
What is your all-time favourite Australian Rugby memory?
“I think for me, watching the (Australian Sevens) girls winning the Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"Obviously I have pretty close ties to the women (Lewis' partner is Charlotte Caslick), and to be able to see them conquer what they set out to achieve four years prior was awesome. A lot of them didn't come from Rugby so they had to learn and had to challenge themselves to get there.
"They proved that anything can be done, and it was so rewarding to see them enjoy that game as they had such a good grasp on it, even though nit went right down to the wire!"