Fiji Rugby Sevens coach Ben Ryan has conceded global sporting superstar Jarryd Hayne is facing a monumental task to realise his Rio Olympics dream.
Hayne has played barely 10 minutes in Fiji’s first two pool games at this weekend’s Twickenham tournament, and didn’t hit the scoreboard in a commanding 42-5 win over Wales.
The Pacific Island nation needs to only beat Australia later today to secure back-to-back World Series titles.
Hayne arrived in London on Monday well down on fitness levels after walking out on his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
It’s meant Ryan has had to nurse his latest acquisition through the opening rounds of the London tournament, making it harder to get a read on Hayne’s Olympic prospects.
“His fitness is way down on our boys and that’s why we’re moderating what he’s doing, he was pretty sore come Friday after consecutive training in what’s been a light week for us,” Ryan said.
He said he was “nowhere near a judgement” on Hayne’s Olympic credentials.
“I’d be an idiot of a coach if having played five minutes in the World Series I can start to make assumptions on where he can go.
“He’s a good footballer but we’ve got world class players, we’re the reigning world champions,” Ryan said.
“When we go into the Olympic camp there’s no hiding place, we don’t pick by face, we pick by form and he’ll have six or seven weeks to prove himself.
“If he gets into our side because of form in seven weeks time then he’s done remarkably well and if he doesn’t it just shows the quality we’ve got,” Ryan said.
Hayne has been solid enough in his limited outings for Fiji so far, but is yet to display his blistering ball-carrying ability that earned him two Dally M medals in the NRL.
His debut came with four and a half minutes left against England, where Fiji suffered a shock 31-10 loss to the host side.
Hayne enjoyed similar minutes in the big win over Wales, earning a few more touches of the ball, and will likely feature against Australia on Saturday evening.
Speaking after the win over Wales, Hayne said he was still adjusting to the game and wasn’t bothered by his lack of time on the field.
“It’s not about game time, it’s about going out there and doing a job for the team,” he said.
“It’s all hard, continuous, I got caught in the ruck a couple of times too.
“That was a good learning curve and when you’re rucking and trying to ruck the ball obviously you exert a lot of energy.
“It’s so much faster, it’s a lot quicker, (I’m) still getting used to it. I’m just being a sponge and learning as much as I can,” Hayne said.