Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea has decided to pull out of contention for the New Zealand Sevens Olympic team and concentrate on fifteens.
Savea joined the All Blacks Sevens training squad this year and was a member of the team that won back-to-back tournaments in Wellington and Sydney.
He was to be involved in the last two tournaments of the season in Paris and London before trialling for the Olympic Sevens team in June.
“We’re naturally disappointed that we can no longer call on the services of such a great sevens player,” said Neil Sorensen, General Manager Rugby, for New Zealand Rugby.
“He could well have made a huge impact at Rio as he’s a classy player and he proved that again in Wellington and Sydney. However, we understand his reasons. As we said from the outset of our Rio programme, playing sevens was very much a personal choice for players. You’re never going to get the best out of any athlete by forcing them to play against their wishes.”
All Blacks Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens said Savea had made a real impact during his return to sevens.
“Of course, we’re very disappointed as we’ve enjoyed having him back. There’s little doubt Ardie could’ve been a key player for us in Rio, but we respect his decision.
“What’s really important looking ahead, is that we still have a strong squad of players motivated to perform in Rio. That’s creating great competition for places so we’re very excited about the next two tournaments as we shape the best team for the Olympics.”
The All Blacks Sevens squad to prepare for the final two tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series assembles in Mt Maunganui on Monday 2 May. The squad of 14 to travel to the Paris Sevens and London Sevens is expected to be named on Thursday 5 May.