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All Black stars eye Olympic Sevens
17:02 AEST Wed Feb 6 2013

All Black flanker Liam Messam is considering switching to sevens rugby as the chance to win Olympic gold threatens to lure players from the 15-a-side ranks for the 2016 Rio Games.

Code-hopping former All Black Sonny Bill Williams, who has crossed back to the NRL, is also reported to be planning a return from the Sydney Roosters to union in time to try out for the New Zealand squad heading to the Olympics.

The shortened form of the game becomes a full medal sport in Rio, a year after the next Rugby World Cup in England.

"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 said on Wednesday.

New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens, who has steered his side to victory in 10 of the 13 IRB Sevens World Series, has already begun assembling a core group of players to form the nucleus of a potential Olympic squad.

He has also won approval from the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) to raid Super Rugby sides and take one player from each of the five New Zealand franchises to this year's Sevens World Cup in June.

The NZRU has told New Zealand's elite players if they want to go to the Olympics, they will not be allowed to play Super or Test rugby in 2016.

Messam, who won Commonwealth Games gold medals in 2006 and 2010 with the New Zealand Sevens team, said he has already discussed with his family and manager the possibility of returning to the shortened form of the game.

Although he would be 32 in 2016, Messam does not believe age will count against him.

"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," he said.


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