Sevens: Jarryd Hayne's Olympic bid is about to hit a hurdle

Jarryd Hayne. Photo / Getty
Jarryd Hayne. Photo / Getty

Hollywood producers have already held discussions about making a movie on the Fijian sevens team's journey to the Rio Olympics.

But don't count on Jarryd Hayne being featured on the silver screen as part of the film.

On Monday, Hayne joins 22 of Fiji's finest sevens players for a camp at the Uprising Beach Resort, which sounds tranquil but will involve running sand hills so often that vomiting will become a constant part of the soundtrack.

The former NRL and NFL superstar is certainly an elite athlete who has proven critics and disbelievers wrong.

But even for a man of his talent, this dream of breaking into Fiji's 13-man squad for the Rio games seems a San Francisco bridge too far.

Hayne is not trying to crack any team, he is trying to make the team.

You may never have heard of Osea Kolinisau, Jasa Veremalua or Jerry Tuwai, but think Messi, Suarez and Neymar, or Curry, Thompson and Green, or Thurston, Inglis and Smith.

They are their equivalent in sevens rugby, players who walk into any team on the planet and dominate all opposition.

And around them, a fleet of Ferraris and Lamborghinis scoring runaway tries like Savenaca Rawaca, off-loading one-handed like Semi Kunatani, turning opposition defenders inside-out like Vatemo Ravouvou.

Less than a handful of players in the world could make a case for starting in Fiji's best side; Kiwi brothers Rieko and Akira Ioane, and South Africa's Seabelo Senatla and Roscko Speckman - but even they have been exposed by Fijian players throughout the 2015-16 World Series.

Fiji won the series, going back-to-back for the first time in their history, in the years that every nation was throwing money and talent into their programs knowing the Olympics were on the horizon.

And this is the side Hayne is attempting to break into, with 17 minutes of playing experience and a six-week training camp.

Sonny Bill Williams has been playing sevens this whole year and is only now looking polished.

Quade Cooper, one of the most brilliant attacking rugby players on the planet, played two tournaments for Australia before coach Andy Friend decided he simply would not be ready for Rio and dumped him.

Hayne, who has spent the past 18 months training his body for short, sharp bursts in the NFL, timed over 40 yards, must somehow transform himself into a 400-metre sprinter by next month.

It has seemed a mad idea from the moment Hayne announced his retirement from the NFL to chase his Olympic gold medal deal.

But it also sounded mad when he initially quit league for the NFL and he left many with eggs on faces.

The difference, however, is that Fiji is not the 49ers - who finished 15th out of 16 teams in the national conference - and Hayne has a comparable hair's breadth of time to become a world-class sevens weapon.

The size of the mountain is highlighted by the other players from the 23-man squad who will have to miss out.

They would be walk-up starters in any other side.

Names like Samisoni Viriviri, Waisea Nayacalevu and Nemani Nagusa are stars who will be worried about their chances. They are proven sevens performers who will be racing Hayne up those sandhills for a prized ticket to Brazil, to become legends as Fiji's first Olympic medallists.

And that's not to mention that Hayne wasn't the only surprise selection in the final rounds of the World Series.

The week before Hayne made his high; y-anticipated, lacklustre sevens debut in London, duo Leone Nakarawa and Josua Tuisova, both XVs specialists, were parachuted into the Paris tournament so they too could be eligible for Rio.

Where Hayne fumbled and lurched his way around the track at Twickenham, Nakarawa and Tuisova produced masterclasses.

Nakarawa's kick-off regathers and outrageous offloads wreaked havoc, while winger Tuisova - who plays alongside Cooper, Matt Giteau, James O'Connor and the rest of Toulon's superstars in the Top 14 - bulldozed any tackler willing to get near him.

The cameos were so powerful, it seems impossible they could be left out of Ryan's final squad.

So where does that leave Hayne?

Ryan said after the London tournament that Hayne would need to improve his yoyo test fitness results from 16 to 22 - which is a number that would break the record of most athletes in world sport.

What Hayne will do is use every ounce of his competitive streak and athletic talent - both in unrivalled abundance - to stake his claim.

And his efforts will lift the intensity of the entire camp, which is the desired result for Ryan.

The red-headed Englishman, who went unpaid four months when he arrived to coach the team but now has T-shirts and songs in his honour, recently told CNN: "When I sit down and start telling some of the tales, people think I'm making them up.

"It's been everything from the second-biggest cyclone to hit land mass in their history and boys having their houses wiped out; we've had death within the playing group; we've had all sorts of things going on.

"We've had this amazing rollercoaster of a ride, it's been unbelievable - to the point that Hollywood is interested.

"Producers who have worked alongside people like Steven Spielberg are talking to us and looking to plan something that could be not just a small budget but a big-budget documentary that would get to cinemas across the world."

It's a story for the ages, regardless of whether the Hayne Plane is flying or grounded on the tarmac.

- news.com.au

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