Who will the Wallabies send to the Olympics?

gatesy Roar Rookie

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    Watching the Hong Kong sevens today, you can’t help but be impressed with what Michael O’Connor has done with the Australian Sevens squad.

    The only game I saw Australia play was Russia, and I was very impressed with the physicality of our players.

    When one of our guys made a break, they hit the line, ran through the hole, pinned their ears back and went for the tryline like a dog after a bone – whereas the Russians seemed more hesitant.

    Even when they got into clear space, you could see them looking around, hesitating and slowing themselves down- inexperience, mainly – the Aussies trusting, first their own ability and secondly, the fact that if they were brought down, there would be a mate there for the cleanout.

    A superbly conditioned lot of athletes, and on average, one of the youngest groups on the tour.

    However, I got to thinking – when the Olympics comes around, obviously some of the Wallabies will be hoping to be picked – what will be the policy?

    Do the Sevens guys who have put in the yards (I’m not going to say “hard” yards, it wouldn’t be too onerous a job) get an automatic guernsey? Or does the Australian Olympic Committee, say to the ARU, give us your best players?

    It’s an interesting conundrum and we do have precedent in that we contributed only about three Wallabies to the team at the last Commonwealth games.

    So, let’s assume that the Wallabies will allow three of their guys to join the squad, with the balance from the existing Sevens squad.

    Who do you think would be picked on today’s form, if Olympics was to be held this year?

    What a great Roarers’ debate this could be……. (says Gatesy, loving a bit of a stir, and a bit of debate.)

    Personally, my choice would be Genia, Cooper and O’Connor, but think of the possibilities – Turner, Mitchell, Cummins, Horne (if fit), Lealifano, Giteau, Phibbs, Kingi, Ioane, Chambers, Ant Faingaa, Davies, Lucas, etc etc,, and notice that I have not even mentioned one forward yet.

    And for the leaguies, who’s to say that the AOC couldn’t ask the ARU to allow some league players in …whoa, what a debate!!

    Anyway, Genia, Cooper and O’Connor are my picks. Who are yours?

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    The Crowd Says (38)

    • March 28th 2011 @ 9:07am
      Fivehole said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      Sevens is rubbish, the T20 of the rugby world. A mistake to add it to the olympics, IMHO

      Having said that, i think they’ll take mostly wallabies with the odd 7s player. They wont take any league players, even if they were better, out of principle.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 9:20am
        shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Then stay out of the debate. But before you go, I must say I disagree with your statement. People who actually play rugby and who play with some semblance of flair and imgination, enjoy it immensely. The number who started out and enhnace their game playing it is countless, and they will tell you what a tough game it is to play.
        Furthermore, sevens will be the avenue by which rugby will really grow around the world, as evidenced on the weekend when Russia and Portughal made the final 8, something, as commentator Nigel Starmer-Smith rightly said, that will never happen in 15s.

        • March 29th 2011 @ 7:41am
          Kovana said | March 29th 2011 @ 7:41am | ! Report

          Hmm.. I do have a belief that Portugal and Russia will make the Q-finals of the RWC…. Not this year.. Or this decade.. I believe in perhaps 2 decades they would be able to make it to the Q-finals…Only a matter of time.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 12:00pm
        Rich said | March 28th 2011 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        Why would they pick league players? Don’t they have to play rugby, not league? Or can the Olympic sevens be chosen from anywhere?

      • March 28th 2011 @ 8:04pm
        BrownDog said | March 28th 2011 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

        Sevens definitely isn’t rubbish, you mustn’t have seen a good game yet. Unfortunately most of the pool games in IRB events are rubbish because they are huge mis-matches. Hong Kong is particularly bad cause its 24 teams. NZ putting 60 points on Korea is rubbish, just as it would be in 15’s or any sport where you have a collosal mismatch, except perhaps football due to its scoring system.

        There were a bunch of great games over the weekend in HK, among the pool matches NZ versus Portugal (not when they played again in the quarters) was great, as was USA versus England, I thought the most physical match of the weekend along with Samoa v Tonga.

        As long as teams are evenly matched most games of sevens are good. I reckon the IRB should split the circuit into two divisions of 12 each, with promotion relegation between the two. It would require significant funding initially but its such a great ‘product’ it would pay for itself within a few years through increased tv rights and sponsorship.

      • March 29th 2011 @ 7:38am
        Kovana said | March 29th 2011 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        “Sevens is rubbish, the T20 of the rugby world. A mistake to add it to the olympics, IMHO”

        Thank goodness no one on the IOC agrees with you.

    • March 28th 2011 @ 9:12am
      shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      You have to pick on speed, flair and workrate.
      But as a buidling block you have to have one out-and-out ball winner (a 15s No 6 with good hands and flair, or possibly a big back good in the air — Higginbotham and Stirling Mortlock, respectively, would be ideal). One more No7-type player with a huge workrate and speed (speed of thought especialy) — in other words, someone like George Smith of 10 years ago — and the rest would be backs.
      Genia and Cooper would be good, plus O’Connor (who started out with the 7s team, of course), plus 2-3 more with sheer, blinding speed: perhaps Lachie Turner, Digby Ioane and Rod Davis. Kingi was another good 7s player as were McCabe and Coleman. Cooper Vuna might be worth a try too. Maybe he could play as a forward.
      Would love to have someone like Sonny Bill Williams as a forward.
      No tight forward need apply.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 12:58pm
        McDamage said | March 28th 2011 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        1) Palu 2) Poluta Nau 3) Higgimbotham
        4) Kingi 5) Cooper 6) Beale 7) Davies

        8) Ioane
        9) Turner
        10) McCalman
        11) AAC
        12) O’Conner

        • March 28th 2011 @ 1:47pm
          shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

          Not bad, though i doubt Palu and Polota Nau could play competitive 7s. They have the skills but they are just too big and heavy. McCalman is a good call but has to up the workrate a bit. The rest are good.

    • March 28th 2011 @ 9:29am
      Brett McKay said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Gatesy, I realy hope you meant Nick Phipps and not Patrick Phibbs among your choices there – imagine making THAT mistake at the selection table!!

      I’m not sure they’ll send too many full-blown Wallabies at all to be honest, the games are becoming too different. Guys with Sevens backgrounds, like PhiPPs and Morahan, will probably go, and you might try someone like Beale perhaps, but otherwise, I think they’ll be pretty much sevens specialists..

      • March 28th 2011 @ 9:40am
        shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        I don’t buy that. A good team of the best players, no matter if they play 7s or XVs, will beat a team of so-called “specialists”, as long as they do the right conditioning for a decent period.

        • March 28th 2011 @ 10:10am
          shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          For example, one of the best 7s teams I have ever seen was this: Zinzan Brooke, Wayne Shelford, Mark Brooke-Cowden as teh forwards, David Kirk as the scrumhalf and the backs were Wayne Smith (yes, the current ABs coach), Mike Clamp and John Kirwan. They played very differently from how they played for the All-Blacks but that is what great players do: they adapt.
          And this team dominated that year — this was 1986, one year before at least 3 of those players won the first RWC with the ABs.
          I reckon an NZ team of, say, Read, McCaw, Vito, Cowan, Carter, Ranger/Dagg, Savea/Guildford would easily beat the 7 that won in HK yesterday.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 12:53pm
        Gatesy said | March 28th 2011 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

        Whoops! Phipps!

      • March 28th 2011 @ 9:12pm
        Gatesy said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

        except that, on current form, O’Connor could be an anything specialist

    • March 28th 2011 @ 10:22am
      Melb Rebel said | March 28th 2011 @ 10:22am | ! Report


      Sorry but i doubt it. The 7’s game has evolved and the fitness levels of 15 players would not stand up. fact!

      Its not just about the game but whole tournament and then the finals are 10 mins. i am not saying Richie McCaw would not still be sensational – just that he would need some time to adapt.

      James Oconnor could certainly go straight in, and like to see that guy from the chiefs nannii in the 7’s. For example I reckon Cooper Vuna would go like a busted in 7’s. Does not have the right fitness level. A bit like Hunt and Isi changing bodies and fitness for AFL.

      Anyone that watches the HK 7’s cant help but be impressed. The problem is the atmosphere, intensity etc is not the same in Adelaide. Wish it was in Melb and my mail is that it will be on the Gold Coast next year.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 10:47am
        shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        I repeat what I said earlier but with emphasis on the last few words, as you have obviously missed it: “A good team of the best players, no matter if they play 7s or XVs, will beat a team of so-called “specialists”, AS LONG AS THEY DO THE RIGHT CONDITIONING FOR A DECENT PERIOD.”
        The only exceptions are playmakers who are purely suited for 7s: eg Waisale Serevi, Ben Gollings, Stephen Brink, Brent Russell; Uale Mai etc. But the rest of the players in teh teams they played with were never really specialists, but were just very good, fast players fitting the requirements imentioned above.
        The only reason we are seeing all these so-called “specialists” in the IRB 7s circuit are because all the best players in the world are contracted to play in Super 14/15 or in the Europoean leagues. There is no doubt in my mind that if NZ coach Gordon Teitjens could pick his best 7s team without restrictions, few if any of his current team would make it. It would be something like the 7 I named above.

    • March 28th 2011 @ 12:42pm
      Brad Drew said | March 28th 2011 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

      A few things Gatesy;

      1. The physicality Oz showed against Russia was not evident in a few of the other games,viz. Samoa and South Africa. In those games the Oz boys were often pushed off the ball with aggressive counter-rucking.

      2. You said; (I’m not going to say “hard” yards, it wouldn’t be too onerous a job) The 7’s boys are the best conditioned athletes in Oz rugby. The commentators mentioned this during the telecast yesterday. I know a couple of the boys in the squad and I can tell you they spend many days at the AIS in Canberra where they are absolutely flogged in the gym and out on the paddock.

      3. I think you will see more money coming into 7’s. There was a report last week that David Koch was one of 25 influential businessmen wanting to buy into the 7’s program. Michael O’Connor was interviewed for the article and he said that would be a good move because he would have a group of centrally contracted 7’s players at his disposal. So by the time the Olympics rolls around the ARU will have Super 15 contracted players and 7’s specialists contracted to the 7’s program.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 12:55pm
        Gatesy said | March 28th 2011 @ 12:55pm | ! Report


      • March 28th 2011 @ 1:41pm
        shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Point 2: yes, they are super fit. But they didn’t win — not enough quality and experience. Lost to an underdone Samoan team, and lost to South Africa in the Plate final. In other words, there is no subsitute to quality.
        If the superfit Australian team played in Hk were to play against a superfit 7 such as: Higginbotham, Pocock, Mortlock; Genia; Cooper, O’Connor and Ioane, which team do you think would win?

        • March 28th 2011 @ 2:55pm
          Brad Drew said | March 28th 2011 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

          The 7’s specialists

          • March 28th 2011 @ 3:01pm
            shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

            You really think a team like that above, with a few weeks of intense anaerobic training and drills, could not beat the 7 that could not beat Samoa and struggled to beat Russia? Shows how well you know 7s.

    • March 28th 2011 @ 1:58pm
      Stu Wilsons Gloves said | March 28th 2011 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

      I think the more important question will be, would Australia actually qualify? With Oceania having NZ, Aus, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and PNG how is the qualifying going to occur? Will it be the top 12 teams in the IRb 7s series or a regional qualifyer with limited amount of places for Rio? If it is 2 or 3 places for the region it is going to be one hell of a fierce qualifying tourney.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 2:05pm
        shahsan said | March 28th 2011 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        Yes, very good point. Based on the results of the IRB series, plus results of the past 30 years of 7s rugby, the Oceania region alone should be guaranteed a huge number of spots — at least 4 of the expected field of 16 teams.
        This would be the exact opposite, of course, of the soccer World Cup, where Oceania is like the unwanted relative who has to be invited but has to go through various hoops to join the party.

      • March 28th 2011 @ 9:15pm
        Gatesy said | March 28th 2011 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

        Good point and that’s another debate. How are they going to do it?

        • March 29th 2011 @ 10:30am
          shahsan said | March 29th 2011 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          According to Stu, there are only 12 teams in the comp (if trrue, I dont see the point. There should be at least 16 teams). If it’s 12, and since the Olympics tends to organise team events on population lines, then Oceania would get 1 or 2 slots — which is ridiculous. If based on population, Asia would get 3, Europe 3, Africa 3, Americas 2 and Oceania 1. They prob should have pre-olympic tournamants and then playoffs between zones.

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