Rugby Union

Wests Tigers recruit Jesse Parahi says Wallabies stars could be 'out of their depth' in sevens

Former Australian sevens representative Jesse Parahi is annoyed sevens is "looked down on" and feels some rugby union stars considering switching for the Olympic Games might find themselves "out of their depth".

Parahi says it is too early for him to have any regrets about giving up the chance of an Olympic medal at this year's Games in Rio de Janeiro as he focuses on his goal of making his NRL debut for Wests Tigers.

Tough code: Wests Tigers recruit Jesse Parahi says sevens is harder than it is given credit for and some rugby union ...
Tough code: Wests Tigers recruit Jesse Parahi says sevens is harder than it is given credit for and some rugby union stars could find themselves out of their depth. Photo: Getty Images

The 26-year-old played rugby league and rugby union throughout school before spending two years in the ACT Brumbies academy.

Then he made the switch to the Australian sevens program for five years, until he joined the Tigers last year.

The Australian Rugby Union has been trying to lure some of its Wallabies stars to play sevens in Rio, with Brumbies winger Henry Speight the first to commit.

Toulon playmaker Quade Cooper, Wallabies full-back Israel Folau and former sevens player Bernard Foley have all been mentioned as possibilities to follow Speight.

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Former Brumbies coach Andy Friend has been appointed Australian sevens mentor for the next 2½ years and will "look at" any Wallabies interested in joining the campaign.

Parahi said it would be tough on any sevens player who helped Australia qualify for Rio to miss out on Olympic selection because of someone coming from the 15-a-side game.

He said his own decision to join the NRL was not related and he felt the less travel involved would be better for when he starts a family after getting married last year.

The Tigers recruit added sevens was "such a team sport" if one player was "out of sync" then they became a liability - no matter how good they were individually.

"They've still got to be the best player in that position. It annoys me in the time I was there that the sevens is probably looked down on and no one really knows how tough it actually is," Parahi said.

"So those guys might come back and they might find they are out of their depth, because sevens is a tough sport."

However, Parahi backed Speight to make a successful switch and to become a game breaker.

"Absolutely mate, he's Henry Speight. Some of the stuff he's done is bloody unreal, unbelievable at times," he said.

"If he can turn that on then it's good to watch on the sevens field."

Parahi is now in his first NRL pre-season and said it had been a "tough transition" and he might have been a little "naive" about how different league and union were, although he added it had been a "lot of fun".

He said with the Olympics not until August there was no chance of feeling regrets about his decision to switch to the NRL- that might come later.

"It's still a little while out for it to really have sunk in for me. At this point I'm still really happy with the decision I've made and I'm doing really well here," Parahi said.

"If I can play NRL [this] year then my decision will have got me to exactly where I wanted to be.

"If I'm battling away in NSW Cup around the Olympics then it'll be tough for me to swallow, but I've made the decision and I'm sticking with it."