Tuqiri: Time against Hayne in quest for Olympics

Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

The rugby world went into meltdown this morning when news broke of Jarryd Hayne’s departure from the NFL to join the Fiji Sevens squad.

Hayne will fly to London to join Fiji for the final World Series tournament this weekend where it’s likely the squad will be crowned Champions for the second consecutive year.

One man who can understand what Hayne’s going through is former Rugby Union and Rugby League star, Lote Tuqiri who switch codes during his career.

Tuqiri played for the Australian Sevens at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty Images

Tuquri questioned whether Hayne will have enough time to prove his worth, with the Olympics just over two months away.

“He hasn’t left himself much time to get into the squad and it’s probably one of the most hotly contested squads and toughest to get into,” Tuqiri said.

“I’m surprised and I’m excited for him, I’m excited for Fiji Rugby,” Tuqiri said.

Numerous players have attempted the switch to Sevens in recent months with Wallabies stars Henry Speight and Nick Cummins pushing for a spot in the Australia squad, while two weeks ago Quade Cooper was ruled out of Olympic contention.

“It’s a tough game and I don’t know if he’s (Hayne) got the conditioning at the moment or had the conditioning to play Sevens rugby,” he said.

“It’s one big shock not only to the body but to your lungs.”

Quade Cooper was ruled out of Olympic contention two weeks ago. Photo: Getty Images

Bookmakers currently have Fiji as Gold Medal favourites for Rio with Ben Ryan’s squad amping up preparations after bringing in several stars from the 15-man game for the Paris tournament on the weekend.

Leone Nakarawa (Glasgow) and Josua Tuisova (RC Toulonnais) starred in Paris as Fiji finished runners-up, with the Hayne news hitting after play finished.

“I don’t know if it will be a bit of a shakeup,” Tuqiri said.

“If he earns his keep and if he gets there on his own merit, Ben Ryan will play it that way, I don’t think Fiji or the boys will have too much of an issue with it.”

Speculation has already started into Hayne’s next career move after the Olympics with a return to the NRL or a potential Super Rugby berth on the cards.

“If he wants to play Super Rugby, any team would have him but I think any team would have him around the world to have him play in Europe or Japan or different places,” Tuqiri said.

“The world’s his oyster and has been for a while.”

Hayne will feature against Australia in London, with the Aussies drawn in Pool B alongside Fiji, England and Wales.

If Hayne does play for Fiji, he will be unable to potentially feature for the Wallabies in the future due to World Rugby’s eligibility rules.