McCutcheon says Hayne faces big challenge

Australian rugby sevens captain Pat McCutcheon totally understands Jarryd Hayne’s Olympic obsession.

While Hayne’s desire to compete at Rio in August is making the most noise of anyone’s right now, he’s certainly not the only one harbouring such ambition.

McCutcheon is desperate to make Australia’s final 12-man Olympic squad.

He featured in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games for Australia, and won a silver medal after losing narrowly to New Zealand in the final.

Now he’s eyeing a chance to improve that colour to gold and upgrade the quality to Olympic.

“It’s a massive drawcard,” McCutcheon said.

“The Commonwealth Games in 2010 was massive. Delhi was an interesting experience, I think Rio could be a similar experience from all reports I’m hearing.

“We were stoked that we could get ourselves into that Cup final and win a medal, but, once you get one thing, you always want a little bit more.

“The opportunity to compete for an Olympic medal as well and trying to reach that gold standard is huge and something that I want to be a part of.”

McCutcheon looms as a likely contender for Rio, although coach Andy Friend is yet to finalise his squad, which isn’t due until July 4.

The stand-in Aussie skipper is enjoying his second stint in the sevens team after being released from the NSW Waratahs last year.

Hayne, meanwhile, is yet to even play a game of professional rugby union, and comes into this weekend’s tournament having spent last season playing American football for the San Francisco 49ers.

“He’s looking at a huge [learning] curve,” McCutcheon said.

“It’s interesting talking to Jesse Parahi, who’s been playing in our team. He spent six months with the Tigers in NRL and he’s a really experienced sevens player. He’s played 30-odd tournaments across his years in the program, he spent six months away and he found it quite difficult to transition back.

“We’ve seen guys like myself, Nick Cummins, Henry Speight, Quade Cooper all struggle with that transition coming into it.

McCutcheon said Hayne had a big challenge in front of him.

“My thing is to respect the game and spend some time in it, learn the game and get conditioned for it.”

“Fiji have got the best team in the world at the moment in current rankings, so for him to break into that team is going to be a huge challenge, so good luck.”

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