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Super Rugby or Rio choice

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

AUCKLAND - Most players who want to be part of the All Blacks Sevens squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics are likely to have to miss that year's Super Rugby competition.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says a number of players involved in the 15-a-side game have raised the issue of the Olympics in their contract negotiations.

Some have made a specific request that, if they decided they wanted to be available for selection for Rio and got picked, they would be able to go.

Tew says both NZR and coach Sir Gordon Tietjens' thinking is that New Zealand would need a squad of players who had been competing in the shorter format for some time beforehand.

That meant they would be unlikely to play in that year's Super Rugby.

"Our thinking right now is that the majority of 15s players who would go to Rio would need to commit to sevens for the season," he said.

"There may be one or two exceptions, but it's certainly our belief and Titch's belief at the moment that, to be successful at Rio, we're going to need a group of players that have played sevens for at least a few months."

New Zealand are the world champions in both men's and women's sevens, and NZR is targeting two golds when the sport makes its Olympic debut.

Players who have talked about wanting to make it to Rio include Sonny Bill Williams, who is set to return to the Chiefs from the NRL next season, and new Blues recruit Benji Marshall.

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