Liam Messam keen to play sevens in Rio

Other top players could follow

AARON GOILE
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013

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Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam is seriously contemplating the switch to sevens in 2016 to make an Olympic gold medal dream a reality.

In line with the New Zealand Rugby Union's Olympic plan for Rio de Janeiro, all players who want to play at the Olympics will have to spend the whole of that year playing sevens.

Messam, who made a name for himself in sevens and has captained New Zealand and won Commonwealth Games gold medals in 2006 and 2010, is eager to compete on sport's biggest stage.

"Yeah, it definitely has [gone through my mind]," he said.

"It's something I've talked to my family and my manager [about].

"It's something that's definitely on my bucket list, it'll be pretty cool to try and compete for an Olympic gold medal, and sevens is close to my heart and it always will be."

Messam turns 29 next month but doesn't believe age will be a factor counting against him when 2016 rolls round.

"I'll be a little bit older when it comes to the next Olympics, but I guess Rushy [Eric Rush] played till he was about 50 so I've got no excuse," Messam said.

"It's just making sure I can keep my body in check and see what happens."

Messam feels he has the experience to swiftly adapt between the two versions of the game.

"I guess for other players it might be a bit hard if they just came straight from 15s into sevens.

"I'm lucky enough I've done it twice now with the Commonwealth Games and I still watch the sevens quite closely and I try and learn as much as I can when I'm watching still.

"If I was to go to the Olympics then I'd definitely have a full year of sevens, try and do the circuit or something like that and try and get back to sevens fitness because it is totally different fitness.

"In saying that, the Super 15 is getting a lot quicker and you do have to be real fit to play this game."

So what does Messam place higher - a Rugby World Cup win, or an Olympic gold medal?

"I don't know. I'd just be blessed to have the opportunity to play in both. I didn't play in the Rugby World Cup [in 2011] so I'd be pretty keen to get to the next World Cup and pretty keen to compete for a gold medal [at the Olympics].

"And also the Commonwealth Games: I'll be itching to get three [Commonwealth Games] gold medals if Titch gives me the opportunity to get out there [in 2014]."

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- Waikato Times

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