Israel Folau has ambitions of playing Rugby Sevens at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Craig Golding
Israel Folau has ambitions of playing Rugby Sevens at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Craig Golding

Door open for Izzy to chase Olympic dream

The odds are shortening on Israel Folau competing at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Just like Folau, Rugby Australia officials are not ruling anything out, saying they would love to sit down with the Wallabies superstar and find out if he's serious about representing Australia on the biggest stage in world sport.

If he is, then Australian Sevens officials say they are prepared to come up with a flexible plan that would allow the tryscoring machine to fulfil all his contractual roles to the Wallabies and Waratahs and still get a crack at Olympic gold.

Rugby Australia's performance manager for sevens Scott Bowen told Rugby Central said there was no pressure on Folau to rush into a decision because nothing would happen anyway until after this year's World Cup.

 

Israel Folau is considering a switch to sevens for the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: AAP
Israel Folau is considering a switch to sevens for the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: AAP

 

But Bowen said if Folau, who revealed his Olympic ambitions to News Corp last week, could be presented with a deal where he only had to play only a limited number of warm-up events to prove his worth.

"We know that there are players who have expressed a desire to maybe play Sevens beyond the World Cup so we're open and excited about having conversations around how a joint deal might look with those players," Bowen said.

"With Izzy, if he had that desire, then he might end up having to play three tournaments for example in next year's World Series to put himself in contention for selection for the Olympics.

"Whether we can actually get there with all the contract and obligations, that'll be a decision for the Waratahs and Rugby Australia and most importantly the player.

 

Israel Folau would be a star recruit for the Australian sevens team. Picture: AP
Israel Folau would be a star recruit for the Australian sevens team. Picture: AP

 

"He's the one who has probably got to drive the discussion around what he would like to ultimately do but we're certainly very open at looking at players that can add value to the program."

Folau is not the only 15s player that Rugby Australia wants to talk to.

With the national men's team struggling in sixth place on the World ­Series standings, the team desperately needs some fresh faces to challenge for medals in Tokyo.

Bowen said Australian Sevens officials were already talking to several players about the possibility of joining the program next season with everything revolving around this year's World Cup.

"For players who miss out on being selected for the World Cup, they could come in earlier and those sort of conversations are taking place," Bowen said.

"For someone like Izzy, who is obviously going to go to the World Cup, he's one of the players that we look after the World Cup if he was interested.

"There's definitely some opportunities out there so we're just ensuring we do everything we can to have the best possible team available to us."

News Corp Australia


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