Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea has decided to pull out of contention for the New Zealand Sevens Olympic team and concentrate on the 15-a-side game.
Savea joined the All Blacks Sevens training squad this year, and was a member of the team that won back-to-back tournaments in Wellington and Sydney.
He was to be involved in the last two tournaments of the season in Paris and London before trialling for the Olympic sevens team in June.
“We’re naturally disappointed that we can no longer call on the services of such a great sevens player,” said NZ Rugby general manager rugby Neil Sorensen.
He said Savea’s decision was disappointing, but understandable.
“He could well have made a huge impact at Rio – he’s a classy player, and he proved that again in Wellington and Sydney.
“However, we understand his reasons. As we said from the outset of our Rio program, playing sevens was very much a personal choice for players.
“You’re never going to get the best out of any athlete by forcing them to play against their wishes.”
All Blacks Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens said Savea had made a real impact during his return to sevens.
“Of course, we’re very disappointed as we’ve enjoyed having him back. There’s little doubt Ardie could’ve been a key player for us in Rio, but we respect his decision.”
Tietjens said the All Blacks Sevens still had a strong pool of players motivated to perform in Rio.
His squad to prepare for the final two world series tournaments assembles in Mt Maunganui on May 2.
A squad of 14 to travel to the Paris and London Sevens will be named three days later.