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One of rugby's biggest story lines of the last year was the game's 15s superstars giving 7s a go ahead of the Olympics. So far, that experiment has borne little fruit. South Africa, Australia and New Zealand have all named their squads for Rio, and only one 15s star, Sonny Bill Williams, has made the cut.
Missing out on Olympic selection were New Zealand's Liam Messam, South Africa's Bryan Habana and Australia's Nick Cummins. Quade Cooper also made a run at the Olympics, playing in a couple of stops on the HSBC 7s World Series last season, but it's been known for some time he wouldn't be considered. Springbok Francois Hougaard was named as a traveling reserve for Rio, but he'll only earn the title of Olympian if someone in the 12-man squad gets injured.
Even though Manu Samoa didn't reach the Olympics, losing to Spain in the final of the repechage qualifier in Monaco, it didn't appear as though capped 7s All Black Tim Nanai-Williams, Sonny Bill's cousin and a star in Super Rugby, would have been in the fold even if they had. He switched his allegiance to Samoa, using the Olympic loophole in international eligibility regulations, and it was speculated he'd be a part of the 7s program in 2016.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Williams and Hougaard, the only 15s superstars to commit themselves fully to the entire World Series, are the ones going to Rio. Both played in six tournaments last season, more than any of the other big-name 15s guys. Messam played in four tournaments, Cummins three, and Cooper and Habana just two a piece.
Team USA's selections will be announced in the next few days, and two guys who haven't been regulars on the circuit recently or ever are in the mix. Having not played for the 7s Eagles since 2009, Wyles played sparingly in the North American Olympic qualifier last summer, and he rejoined the setup for the Rio camp after helping Saracens win the English and European titles. Nate Ebner and the New England Patriots bowed out of the NFL playoffs in the NFC Championship Game in January, and he was at the Olympic Training Center within weeks. He rode the bench for the USA in Hong Kong and played in Singapore and Paris.
Joining them in a similar, but-not-too-similar, situation is Andrew Durutalo. The big man was a regular for the USA 7s team for two-and-a-half seasons before taking a 15s contract with Super Rugby's Sunwolves last year. Though he didn't play in a World Series stop this season, he's not as far removed from the team as Wyles or Ebner.
Will the late-comeing Americans go the way of their international cohorts?
The way I see it, as long as Durutalo is fit enough, he's a lock. He is a large reason the 2014/2015 Eagles wer slightly better than the 2015/2016 World Series squad. And the way the other positional battles fall into place, there's probably only room for Wyles or Ebner, though it's entirely possible neither will be picked.
Rest assured that if either is, it's because Friday believes their presence gives the team the best chance to succeed, a.k.a they're on form. If it was Wyles, that would mean the USA has as seasoned and experienced a playmaker as any other team in Rio, and if Ebner were selected, it'd mean the Eagles have one of the most impressive physical specimens in the competition.