Hayne brings va­ri­ety, ver­sa­til­ity to our na­tional 7s squad

Fiji Sun - - Comment -

Ben Ryan is not tak­ing any chances. The Voda­fone Fi­jian 7s coach is build­ing his squad for the Rio Olympics in Au­gust. It is ev­i­dent he is look­ing for mar­quee play­ers who have proved them­selves on the world stage in sports. The sur­prise in­clu­sion of rugby league and Amer­i­can grid iron star Jar­ryd Hayne in the Fi­jian squad for the Lon­don leg of the World Rugby Sev­ens se­ries is part of this strat­egy.

He brings to the squad a va­ri­ety of tal­ents that can only en­hance the team strength and prepa­ra­tion for Rio. When he switched from rugby league to grid iron, he be­came an in­stant sen­sa­tion. Play­ers of his cal­i­bre will cre­ate im­pact wher­ever they go. But there is no guar­an­tee he will make it to the fi­nal squad. It gives Ryan a peace of mind that he is sur­rounded by these world class ath­letes. Any­thing can hap­pen in two months, in­juries and other un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances. It’s good to know that there are enough good play­ers to slot in in case of an emer­gency. This is Ryan think­ing strate­gi­cally be­cause the Rio gold is his ul­ti­mate goal. It’s a goal that the whole of Fiji is sup­port­ing him for. Suc­cess will give him the sat­is­fac­tion of end­ing his sev­ens stint in Fiji on a high note.

It is not clear whether he will seek a re­newal of his con­tract af­ter Rio. There has been talk of him ven­tur­ing into 15s and the pos­si­bil­ity of team­ing up with John McKee, the na­tional 15s head coach.

If he stays in 7s it will be a plus for Fiji. But for the time be­ing the fo­cus is on Lon­don this weekend. We are on track to win the se­ries back to back for the first time. We only have to reach the quar­ters to win. Any­thing be­yond that is a bonus. But know­ing Ryan’s high stan­dards he will want to see his men go all the way to the fi­nal and win it. It will be a state­ment that we will be the team to beat in Rio. For Hayne he has to prove him­self if he is given an op­por­tu­nity. There is a re­mote chance we might see him in ac­tion this weekend. Ryan has de­vel­oped this cul­ture that his run-on play­ers will be se­lected on merit, not on rep­u­ta­tion or sta­tus. If Hayne is in the team, it is for a very spe­cific pur­pose – to try him out. Let’s wel­come him be­cause he can be an in­spi­ra­tion to the side.

We still have to do a fair amount of work to gel them as a team, you just can’t hope that you pick the best play­ers from around the globe and they will knit to­gether. Ben Ryan Voda­fone Fi­jian 7s coach

Jar­ryd Hayne.

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