Australia might have missed out on rugby sevens glory in Rio but returning Wallaby Henry Speight is hopeful more “big names” will commit to helping secure gold on home soil at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Winger Speight is back in the 15-man code after recovering from the knee injury that ruled him out of the Olympics earlier this year, and is pushing for a spot in this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against South Africa in Pretoria.
While he has no intention of switching back to sevens, Speight said it would be great to see other drawcards throw their hat in the ring for Gold Coast 2018.
“Probably it’d be a bit unrealistic (for me) to go for another Olympics but in saying that I think that most of those boys would be aiming for the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
“Being hosted by Australia, that will be good to have a few big names going back into sevens, knowing that we’re hosting to try and make gold in that.”
Quade Cooper was the highest-profile player to push for an Olympic berth but was ultimately snubbed by coach Andy Friend because he wasn’t able to make a proper transition in time.
It’s believed Cam Clark, a member of the Thunderbolts team that went to Rio who will join the Waratahs next year, is eyeing off a Commonwealth Games berth.
So too is Michael Wells, a former sevens player who signed for the Brumbies instead of attempting to crack the Olympics, and will also play for the Tahs next season.
Rugby sevens made its debut at Rio but it has been recognised as a core sport by the Commonwealth Games Federation since it was first played in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
However, women’s sevens will be played for the first time on the Gold Coast.
Speight, meanwhile, said there were plenty of things he could take out of a “worthwhile” experience in the Australian sevens program.
“I think it was really refreshing in a way after six or seven seasons in Super Rugby,” he said.
“I’ve been better for it fitness wise and also physically and mentally, so little things with nutrition and things like that.
“You have to be quite mentally strong to go through the training.”