With the Tokyo Olympics now only mere months away, excitement for the return of rugby sevens on sport’s biggest stage is building.
Fiji 7’s Olympics coach, Ben Ryan talk to World Rugby about his selection of the most interesting players to watch during Tokyo Olympics (men’s and women’s rugby sevens) scheduled on 26th – 31st July this year.
Here Ryan reveals who he thinks will shine in the men’s tournament.
Arguably the best player in world rugby for the last three to four years. With his mesmerizing attack and his clamp-like defense as a sweeper, he is incredibly important on both sides of the ball. His footwork is up there with Waisale Serevi and William Ryder. A gold medal winner in Rio, he has also been a part of this amazing run that Fiji has had in winning five consecutive Hong Kong Sevens titles.
An incredibly powerful player who is already carving it up for the Blues in Super Rugby. He is not a Lomu, but he plays that type of role, at either center or wing. I’ve seen him run around some very fast sevens wingers, but he also has the ability to bump off defenders in contact and hits hard. He is the perfect blueprint really as to how you can use sevens to develop a player. I think he’ll be a future All Black.
Tokyo will be the best venue for Clarke to showcase his ability, power and to break Fiji domination of gold medal.
He came across from the NRL and has developed into one of these X-factor players. Whenever he gets the ball, he really does some magical things and, on his day, he is as good as anyone in the world. He has amazing acceleration and can break open the tightest of defenses. Whereas Australia used to put him on the field to get a try and turn a game for them, they’ve worked on his fitness and he’s now playing full games and full tournaments. He’s given them an added dimension and advantage for the Wallabies squad to Tokyo.
Has been around the scene for a long time and is like a Ben Gollings with his ability to control a game and to kick vital points. Most good things Canada do revolve around him. If Canada can get to the quarter-finals and he has one of the games of his life, then there is no reason why they can’t cause an upset.
Was part of the USA team that had a disappointing Olympics in Rio despite the hype around them. I don’t think they’ll make the same mistakes twice, though. He has got incredible amounts of pace, but he is also a very well-rounded footballer who distributes well and understands space, and is a constant threat. A match-winner who is also very much part of their kick-chase game. Surely one to watch in Tokyo.
Relatively new to the scene but is slowly replacing Cecil Afrika as that midfield dynamo for South Africa. His constant half-breaks allow his team to get on the front foot and he also gets through an incredible amount of work. If he continues on this path that he has had pre-lockdown, then he is going to be a serious part of South Africa’s tilt at a gold medal in Tokyo.
A big unit – over 100kgs – he is one of those who can mix it with the most powerful Pacific Islanders, South Africans and Kiwis. He has got a good turn of pace, can ride tackles and can play a roving role at centre, or in the forwards if they need him to. Argentina was very unlucky in the last Olympics, but I think if people like him are on form in Tokyo, then they could be a team with the ability to cause a serious surprise.