Maurice Longbottom hoping to inspire an Indigenous rugby sevens revolution

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Australia's newest sevens signing wants to inspire the next generation of Indigenous athletes.

Maurice Longbottom was once told he was too small to play in the NRL. Now, the 22-year-old is on the cusp of representing Australia in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Rugby league was the sport Longbottom dreamed of playing from a young age while growing up in La Perouse, Sydney. His uncle George played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the 1980s.

"You grow up you want to be a professional rugby league player," Longbottom told SBS News.

"You got the background there so why not think about it."

But Maurice was told by the Rabbitohs that he was too small to play professionally. In 2015, he decided to have a go at playing rugby sevens instead. 

"It was just by accident I played a one-off tournament in the Ella Sevens up in Coffs Harbour," Longbottom said.

"Straight away I just loved it, absolutely loved it."

Australian coach Andy Friend quickly identified Longbottom as a player of the future and invited him to train with the national side. 

"Everyone talks about speed; he's got that, but his ability to stop on a dime and spin and go in another direction, he's one of the best I've ever seen, to be honest," Friend said.

Longbottom has signed with Australia’s sevens team until the end of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He hopes to inspire the next generation of Indigenous athletes.

"I'd love to go out and see other Aboriginal kids and really encourage them to have a crack at sevens," Longbottom said.

"It's a wonderful game especially for our people, it's just built for us pretty much."

Friend says he wants to recruit more players of Indigenous heritage. 

"There's hopefully another 50 to 100 Maurice Longbottom's out there," he said.

"Having worked in Indigenous areas before; they've got skill and ability to burn."

"What we want to try and do is invite them in and expose them to sevens."

Australia begins its World Series campaign next weekend in Dubai.

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