Nick Malouf says he is a "better player" for the experience of spending a season at Leicester Tigers after it was confirmed that the 25-year-old would return home to re-join the Australian Sevens set-up ahead of this year’s Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.
Speaking exclusively with LeicesterTigers.com ahead of a holiday in Italy with his partner, before returning Down Under, Malouf said: “I can’t say thank you enough to the Leicester Tigers for the opportunity that I have had this season to play against some of the top clubs in Europe and in the Premiership. The experience has made me a better footy player.”
Malouf swapped the World Rugby Sevens Series for a spot in the Tigers squad in the summer of 2017 after a decorated career in the shortened form of the game which included representing Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games and more than 30 tournament appearances for his country.
Speaking at that time, ahead of his move to the East Midlands, Malouf was hopeful of making the most of his chance at such an historic club.
“Leicester is a big club with a reputation throughout the world and I want to make the most of my chance,” Malouf told LeicesterTigers.com on June 30, 2017.
Unknown to many of the #TigersFamily when it was announced head coach Matt O’Connor had recruited his fellow countryman, it wasn’t long before he made good on his promise and became a favourite among supporters.
“I’m definitely going to miss running out in front of a full Welford Road crowd, it is a special place to play rugby."Nick Malouf
Set to compete with the 2016/17 Players’ Player of the Year, Adam Thompstone as well as fellow new recruits Jonny May and Jonah Holmes for a place on the wing, Malouf’s challenge of adapting to the 15-man game was not the only hurdle the Australian would have to face in a new environment.
His club debut came in the opening pre-season fixture of the 2017/18 campaign when Tigers travelled to the Ospreys and three weeks later made his Aviva Premiership debut against Bath in a backline which included Ben Youngs, George Ford, Matt Toomua, Manu Tuilagi, May and Telusa Veainu.
Malouf finished the season with 21 appearances, including contributions in both Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup, and six tries for Leicester Tigers.
Arguably the fans' most memorable Malouf moment was a pile-driving tackle on Lions No8 Taulupe Faletau in front of the Welford Road terrace - which he admits he will miss running through on to the pitch.
“I’m definitely going to miss running out in front of a full Welford Road crowd, it is a special place to play rugby,” Malouf said.
A Premiership Try of the Week win for his individual effort against Gloucester, a last-gasp score in the corner from a Valentino Mapapalangi offload against Sale Sharks, an appearance at Thomond Park against Munster and a length-of-the-field intercept score at Kingsholm are just a few of the moments that stand out for the Australian.
But, for all the on-field memories, it's the relationships built during his time in Leicester that will stick with him.
“Along with the playing group and coaches, the supporters have made me feel welcome from day one and that’s what makes this club so great," he said.
“I’ve made some lifelong mates and created some fantastic memories along the way and I’ll be watching on with great interest over the coming years as I know success for the club is just around the corner.”
Scroll down to see highlights from Malouf’s time with the Tigers on LTTV.