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Kiwis to pick big guns for Olympics


  • 30 Jul 2014
Sonny Bill Williams could go to the Olympics Sonny Bill Williams could go to the Olympics

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says several Super Rugby players and All Blacks will prioritise sevens in 2016 in the lead up to the Olympic Games.

This follows reports that New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens had sent out his wish list of stars for Rio – including Sonny Bill Williams, Cory Jane, Liam Messam and Julian Savea – following his side's 17-12 loss to South Africa in the final of the Commonwealth Games.

Tew said there was plenty of debate around exactly how that process would be handled and hinted the failure to win gold in Glasgow would be factored into discussions.

'We've said we will pick the best team possible to go win a gold medal in Rio, but the debate is what makes that team up?' he told Radio Sport. 'Is it a lot of players who have been only involved in sevens for a long period of time? Or is it a mix of players who have played both versions of the game?

'In the end it is going to come down to how many and for how long? My sense is we will have some 15s players who could make a very valuable contribution and transition in a relatively short period of time and others who would need longer.'

Tietjens wants Olympic contenders to play at least four to six Sevens World Series sevens tournaments in 2016.

South Africa are also expected to bolster their Olympic team with 15-man players.

Cheetahs wing Cornal Hendricks and Lions No 8 Warren Whiteley played for the Blitzboks at the Commonwealth Games, while Bryan Habana and Schalk Brits were in the original squad before being withdrawn because the Games took place outside of the IRB window.

Habana was later told by the Top 14 that he could take part and placed on stand-by, but with no players ruled out because of injury he was not required.

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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