Hayne underestimated Olympic challenge: O'Connor

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by Beth Newman

Jarryd Hayne underestimated the challenge of Sevens, former Australian coach Mick O’Connor says.

Hayne announced his Olympics omission earlier on Tuesday morning, admitting in a Facebook post that he knew he wasn’t ready, after making the decision to trial for the team just months out from Rio.

While O’Connor dismissed the notion that Hayne had belittled the Sevens format in the process, the long serving Australian coach said the cross-code star was not prepared for the challenge.

“I think he's underestimated just how difficult the physical requirements to play Sevens,” he told the rugby.com.au podcast.

“Not all rugby players can play sevens, it's such an aerobic sport.

“You need high level of aerobic ability and an ability to get up off the ground and have back to back efforts and you don't necessarily need that in 15s or in rugby league, certainly not NFL.

“It's a different game altogether and very demanding.”

Mick O'connor coached the Australian Sevens from 2008-2014. Photo: Getty ImagesO’Connor was not surprised by Hayne’s axing from the Fiji squad, a team that has won back-to-back World Series titles, having said earlier this year that the former Eel wouldn’t make the cut.

“I mean these guys, you've got to understand, it's their national sport, number one, and they've been training for the last Olympic cycle with one thing in mind,” he said.

“They've been focused on this for not just the last couple of months but the last four years and (Fiji coach) Ben Ryan has been quite meticulous, he's moved over from England, given up quite a comfortable life there to live in Suva and he's taken on this project.

“I don't think he's going to leave any stone unturned and he's going to go with the best possible side for the Olympics.”

It’s a tale that isn’t unique to Hayne, with a number of late Olympic hopefuls ruled out on the journey to Rio as squads are whittled down.

Australia’s Sevens team is playing a series against Japan at Knox College in Sydney’s north.