Australia’s sevens game-breaker Cameron Clark has welcomed Wallabies trying to fast-track their way to Rio, but warned they were racing against the clock.
Clark, who returns from a hamstring injury to play in this weekend’s Olympic qualifier in Auckland, believes Test stars like Quade Cooper and Israel Folau would have the talent to be sevens hits.
However the tackle-busting speedster doubted whether high-profile 15s players could adapt to the shortened game with just a few world series tournaments under their belt before the Rio Games.
“They’re highly skilled and would add to the group but it’s making sure they have enough time playing and training with us,” Clark told AAP.
“Building combinations doesn’t happen overnight.
“I’d like to see them play quite a few times, it would be hard to walk straight in. I don’t see that as too realistic.”
Henry Speight is the only Wallabies player to so far train with the Thunderbolts, but he was not included in an experienced 12-man team of sevens specialists to play the Oceania Olympic qualifier this weekend.
Australia needs to win the eight-nation tournament to seal a place at Rio
Speight will be released by the Brumbies to play sevens for three world series tournaments next year in a bid to make the Olympics, while France-based Quade Cooper is also set to get a release from Toulon to also play three tournaments.
A confident Clark believed it was highly important the Thunderbolts qualified with victory this weekend rather than leave their five-ringed hopes to a last-resort 12-nation tournament next June.
Samoa stand as their biggest rival, and likely opponent in Sunday’s final, but world No.5-ranked Australia did outperform the island nation on this year’s circuit.
“They’re definitely a good side and we know they can beat anyone on their day so we’re not taking them lightly,” Sydney-based Clark said.
“We’re confident and in good shape so there’s no excuses for us.”
Australia: Ed Jenkins (capt), Cameron Clark, Tom Cusack, Allan Fa’alava’au, Con Foley, Pama Fou, Lewis Holland, Henry Hutchison, Greg Jeloudev, Jesse Parahi, James Stannard, Michael Wells.