Brumbies still Sevens hopeful's priority
Tom Ruediger trains with the Australian Sevens squad at the AIS on Wednesday. Photo: Melissa Adams
A recommendation from rugby great Stephen Larkham could be the start of Tom Ruediger's Olympic Games journey, but the winger admits Super Rugby is still his No.1 goal.
Ruediger has been training with the Australian Sevens squad in Canberra as coach Michael O'Connor prepares his team for the season opener on the Gold Coast next month.
He hopes it will help launch him back on to the ACT Brumbies' radar as he continues to chase his dream of playing Super Rugby.
But with Sevens rugby to be added to the Olympic program for Rio in 2016, Ruediger conceded he could be torn.
The 21-year-old trained with the Brumbies last season and was trying to force his way into the main squad before ankle ligament damage and a fractured tibia ruled him out for four months.
He returned to helped Wests into the John I Dent Cup grand final two weeks ago and Brumbies assistant Larkham told O'Connor to test him in the seven-a-side game.
''If you had to choose between [15-a-side and Sevens], you have to go with what suits you and right now that is the [15-a-side] game,'' Ruediger said.
''I haven't played much Sevens before, but this is the opportunity I've been given and I'm going to take it.
''It definitely gives you more options and the Olympics coming up … that speaks for itself.''
Ruediger has put his life on hold to pursue his rugby.
It was only 18 months ago that he decided to have a serious focus on the game and his debut season with Wests impressed Brumbies coach Jake White.
He trained full-time during the pre-season, but his injury halted his momentum.
Now he hopes he can impress White again to win a spot in the extended player squad.
''I was pretty shattered when I was injured, I was the biggest I'd ever been [at 85 kilograms] and the fastest as well,'' he said.
''I'd like to push for the Brumbies again, but I'll have to speak to [Larkham] and Jake to see if there's an opportunity.''
Former Australian Schoolboy Tom Cusack is also training with the Sevens squad, while Queanbeyan's Lewis Holland has been a regular in O'Connor's team.
Holland had a horror run of injuries earlier this year.
He battled hamstring problems on three different occasions as well as knee and groin injuries which cut his season short.
The 19-year-old has had three months to recover and is desperate to get back to his best on the lucrative Sevens circuit.
''It was frustrating just because I was as fit as I'd ever been so I've changed my running style and hopefully things go well,'' Holland said.
''I'm itching to get back out there … the Olympics are four years from now but there's obviously a lot of hype and people competing for your position now.
''It gets you buzzing, but I don't know what will be happening in four years.''