World Rugby Sevens Series rookie-of-the-year nominee Henry Hutchison looks to have all but sealed his place at the Rio Olympics in August.
Hutchison was a shining light for Australia in a disappointing London Sevens tournament at Twickenham, which ended early on Sunday with a 24-19 Bowl final loss against Wales.
On Saturday, Australia failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after a narrow loss to England, and a heavy defeat by Fiji.
Hutchison, 19, was arguably Australia’s best player in London, scoring five tries across the weekend to show off the blistering pace and finishing skills that have him touted as one of the world’s best outside backs.
Should coach Andy Friend select the youngster in his final 12-man Rio squad, Hutchison will realise an unlikely childhood dream.
“I always wanted to go to the Olympics. I wanted to run, but I don’t think I’d ever be quick enough,” Hutchison said.
“Since rugby sevens has given me an avenue, it’s really made my dream a reality and I’m looking forward to pursuing it.
“I came in about maybe August last year. Rio’s always been in the back of my mind, and first I just wanted to learn the game and have a good world series.”
Friend says he’s settled about 80 per cent of his Rio squad, but won’t be making any final decisions for at least another month.
His players now enjoy 10 days off before an internal tournament in mid-June and a heat-training camp in either Darwin or Doha.
A three-day mock tournament against Japan closes out Australia’s Rio preparations, and Friend said Hutchison had been doing everything right to win selection.
“He’d have to be right up there,” Friend said.
“I haven’t named anything yet and there’s still another month to go, but he’s a try scorer, that’s what you want you want – finishers – and he’s a bloke who can finish for me.
“He’s a special footballer that boy. Just to have the confidence he’s got, and the power and the speed he’s got.
“If he stays in the game of sevens, he’s going to be a household name if he’s not already.”