All Blacks must make Olympic call

New Zealand's 15-a-side stars will need to decide by May whether to pursue Olympic sevens gold in 2016.

According to, New Zealand Rugby plans to unveil its first squad, which will feature a mix of sevens specialists, Super Rugby stars and All Blacks who have expressed interest, in four months time. A squad of up to 26 players will then be named on 5 August – a year out from the Games – with the squad whittled down to 12 for the Olympics.

New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens's wish-list is expected to include brothers Julian and Ardie Savea, Liam Messam, Sonny Bill Williams, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Victor Vito. Of that group, only Williams has no previous sevens experience.

Details are still being worked through but it is understood those who opt for the sevens route will miss six to eight weeks of Super Rugby in 2016, depending on their level of sevens experience, conditioning and natural abilities, as well as the All Blacks' end-of-year tour.

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Simon Borchardt