Australian sevens rugby coach Andy Friend believes Quade Cooper’s unsuccessful bid to make his Olympic team might have worked had he been able to fully commit to the program for six months.
The team announced earlier this week was comprised completely of sevens specialists.
Cooper and fellow Wallabies backs Nick Cummins and Henry Speight were all invited to join the sevens program by the ARU, but none made the final cut.
Cummins and Speight’s hopes were largely dashed by injuries in recent months, while Cooper tried to juggle his commitment to the sevens program with his 15-a-side duties with French glamour club Toulon.
Ironically, Cooper earlier this week tweeted he was finishing up with Toulon.
“When Quade Cooper came in it was all about how many tournaments he will play, two or three was the magic number,” Friend said on Friday.
“But the reality was he wasn’t with us. If he’d stayed with us to train at those intensities, that’s where you get your benefits from, he may have made it in six months.
“It depends upon the individual and what their physiological makeup is.
“The reality was he was with us for two or three tournaments and then back to Toulon playing 15s.
“It’s not his fault, but they don’t train with that intensity.
Friend agreed people underestimated the differences between sevens and the 15-a-side versions.
“Totally, we’ve all seen it this year,” Friend said.
“The ARU correctly, I believe, has invited three players to come across and have a crack at it,” Friend said.
“I think anyone, probably me included, would have thought `they will make it.’
“Well, they didn’t and they won’t, physiologically it’s a totally different game.”
Friend backed up his assertion by using data accumulated through his team’s use of Catapult wearable technology, which monitors and manages player conditioning and performance.
The technology is used by all AFL, NRL and Super Rugby teams in Australia, the All Blacks and Wallabies.
Friend revealed sevens players would have to run significantly more metres a minute than their 15s counterparts.
“We work on an average of about 80 metres per minute in a Test match, we (the sevens team) are working on 180,” Friend said.
“We want our players to average over 110 metres a minute. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot more metres, a lot more high speed velocity.
“We can get to 180, 200, 220 metres a minute in our game, you’ll never see that in a game of 15s.”