The admission of Rugby 7’s into the the 2016 Olympic program has prompted many fans and pundits to speculate on the possibility of our top athletes from rival codes competing together for Australia in a quest for Olympic gold. Imagine the likes of Ben Barba, Billy Slater, James O’Connor, and Michael Hooper together in the same squad! It would form something of a dream team with the talent surpassing even that of other 15-a-side powerhouses such as New Zealand and South Africa should they elect to recruit their elite players into the tournament.
Now that we can’t rely on the swim-team to secure a bounty of Olympic gold, we need to take ’em wherever we can get ’em (thank god for sailing!), but it appears Rugby Seven’s will be anything but a sure money bet as current national coach Michael O’Conner indicates that it is unlikely that high profile Super Rugby players or NRL players will feature in the national team.
“We’re going to need players in our program for three years before Brazil. So I think at some stage players are going to have to make a decision whether they’re going to come to Rio or specialise in 15s. And that’s the path we’re heading down.“
via Fox Sports
O’Conner’s job is a pretty tough one. With an IRB’s 7’s season comprising of 9 tournaments across the globe, O’Conner dedicates much of the season to developing combinations within the team, only for the nuclease to be ripped apart at the season’s end as players get snapped up by Super Rugby teams. It’s not hard to see why he’s keen to put a lid on talk of an open door policy for the Olympics… But think of the gold!
You can check out Australia’s form this weekend at the IRB world series event on the Gold Coast this weekend. On the bright side for the dreamers out there, Wallaby tourist and Red’s fullback Luke Morahan has been drafted into the squad for the tournament. You never say never I guess.
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