Australian Rugby Sevens captain Ed Jenkins says players more accustomed to the 15-man game are struggling to adapt to the modified version of the sport.
With the possibility of an Olympic Games berth proving an enticing lure, Nick Cummins became the latest Wallaby to make his Sevens debut in Hong Kong last week.
His tournament didn’t go well – after he injured his foot in the first match and was clearly impacted for the remainder of the weekend.
He will miss the next month of football, ruling him out of the next leg in Singapore and placing him in doubt for the final two events in Paris and London next month ahead of the Olympics.
Cummins’ disappointing debut follows the mixed start to Quade Cooper’s Sevens career, which has left him battling to earn a place in the 12-man squad for the Rio Games.
And Jenkins says their performances are typical of those coming across from the 15-man game, including New Zealand’s dual-code star Sonny Bill Williams.
“All of them are finding it quite difficult to come across and play Sevens,” Jenkins said.
“So it’s great for our sport, it just shows just how difficult the game is.”
Mixed starts for Cummins and Cooper have also seen a potential shift in attitude from the ARU, who this week re-signed Jesse Parahi, who left the program last year to link with NRL club Wests Tigers.
Parahi was part of Australia’s squad for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and also helped the team qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Despite the distractions though, the Thunderbolts are enjoying their most consistent season since 2001-02, having reached two finals and two semi-finals in their past four events.
“We definitely can win the gold,” Jenkins said.
“We’ve proven of late we can virtually beat every team on the circuit. We’ve had a good past four tournaments with three podium finishes there.
“There’s a lot of confidence amongst the team there and a gold medal is definitely on the cards for us.”