All Black to chase Olympic sevens gold
Wellington - All Blacks loose forward Liam Messam will put his Super
Rugby career on hold in a bid to win a sevens gold for New Zealand at
next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Messam, who won Commonwealth
Games gold in sevens for New Zealand in 2006 and 2010, has left the
Chiefs to concentrate on breaking into the Olympic squad, his coach told
"He'll be very difficult to replace," coach Dave Rennie said of the 31-year-old Chiefs captain.
it's exciting for him. He obviously won a gold medal at Commonwealth
Games and to try and win an Olympic gold would be pretty special so
we'll fully support it and who knows, he may be back in '17."
Chiefs are also expected to lose another marquee player in All Blacks
centre Sonny Bill Williams, who has also spoken of a tilt at Olympic
Both Williams and Messam were named on Sunday in a 41-man
squad for the All Blacks' warm-up tests for their defence of the rugby
World Cup in England.
Like the All Blacks, New Zealand's sevens
team are reigning world champions and highly likely to enter the Rio
tournament as favourites.
Messam's absence for at least a year
will leave a leadership void for Rennie, whose Chiefs were knocked out
of the Super Rugby playoffs on Saturday by the Highlanders.
back-to-back 2012-13 champions face a big recruiting drive over the
off-season, with a clutch of backs departing for foreign clubs,
including Tom Marshall, Bryce Heem, Tim Nanai-Williams and Hosea Gear.