Will the first Olympics sevens tournament, at Rio de Janeiro in two years’ time, need star players to make it appealing?
You would hope not. It fits more snugly with the amateur ideal of the Games that the medals will be competed for by the same highly talented, yet low-profile players who proliferate on the regular sevens series at present.
But when Michael O’Connor, Australia’s coach, floated the idea of Israel Folau playing in Rio, it certainly focused the mind.
“He’d be just awesome on the restarts,” O’Connor was quoted as saying about the multi-skilled Wallabies winger. “The teams that invariably win are the teams that have more possession time and restarts are one of the best opportunities for some unstructured play to attack from. I guarantee he would get nine out of 10.”
Given the way he has adapted to league, union and Australian rules in his young professional life maybe Folau is due a change, anyway.
If he felt the desire to go for gold, he is certain to be accommodated, but how long it would take him to acclimatise to the rigours of the abbreviated format is debatable.
O’Connor reckons he would need at least a year on the circuit to understand the skills required.
Or, more pertinently, acquire the fitness needed. Others, like Fiji’s Ben Ryan, reckon it is insulting to the day-to-day sevens players that stars of the XVs game reckon they could easily compete in that format, if they deigned to.
Maybe so, but it would be exciting to see someone of Folau’s merits try.
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