Quade Cooper says he has the same nerves approaching Sevens rugby as he did when he first stepped into the boxing ring as the Toulon playmaker prepares to make his Australian debut in Sydney in February.
The former Reds five-eighth has officially been unveiled by the Australian Rugby Union as the latest piece of their Rio 2016 puzzle, joining the Sevens program after a deal was struck with his French employer.
Cooper, 27, will be released for three tournaments, starting in Sydney on February 6-7, which has almost sold out. He will also play in the Paris and London legs of the Sevens World Series as he tries to stake his claim for the Olympic tournament in Brazil.
Speaking from France, Cooper told Fairfax Media that he was equal parts excited and nervous as he prepared to chase an Olympics dream that had been bubbling away ever since rugby was included in the Rio program.
But he said he was acutely aware of the challenge ahead of his as he tried to translate his game to the Sevens arena, which represents an entirely different challenge for players accustomed to XV-aside competition.
"A lot of people are saying I'll be sweet, it should be fine. But it's a totally different game. I am nervous. It's similar to when I started boxing, I was so nervous because you just don't know. You haven't done it before... I don't know if I'll flunk or be good," Cooper said.
"But putting yourself in those positions is the first part. That's the first hurdle and I've done that. I'm in the position to test myself. Im excited. And I know that wherever this may lead, I'll be able to give it everything I've got."
Cooper's long passing game and neat stepping should be a perfect fit in Sevens rugby but he knows his one-on-one defence will also have to be spot-on, particularly against foes like close friend and All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams, who has also made the switch and should be in Sydney.
Fellow Wallabies Henry Speight and Nick Cummins have also made themselves available for new coach Andy Friend, who must now test all of his cattle and decide if the new faces can adapt in time to help Australia contend in Rio.
"The key for us is the fact that Quade has a genuine desire to represent his country in the World Series and Rio 2016 Olympics. I believe we already have a talented squad and adding Quade to that mix will only help us as we look ahead to a busy 2016," Friend said.
Cooper, who used to date Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Stephanie Rice, said the prospect of being on an Olympic team was a genuine dream and opened an entire new pathway for new and established rugby players.
"First and foremost, just being in the program ... that's exciting. It's something that wasn't even possible a few years ago ... it couldn't even be a dream to go to the Olympics unless all of a sudden you were able to swim or run or jump," Cooper said.
"Now there's the chance that in six months time we could be at the Olympics hopefully battling it out for a gold medal.
"When I was a kid, when the Olympics were on, everybody watched it but you never dreamed you've have an opportunity to go to one. It's mind-blowing."
As always, Cooper will have his detractors and have eyes on his each and every move on the field. But he brings a high-profile presence to the Sevens push and tends to be box office gold when he steps out onto the turf.
More than 70,000 tickets have already been sold for the Sydney 7s, which runs over two days at Allianz Stadium.