The pain in Sam Dickson's injured knee after he ruptured his ACL ligament when playing at the Hong Kong World Series tournament in April was matched only by the disappointment that his Olympic dream was over.

It was a crushing blow - in every sense - because this 1.92m Cantabrian, a sevens expert, is a key part of Gordon Tietjens' team.

But, rather than have surgery, which would have ruled out any chance of selection for Rio, the 26-year-old Dickson elected to try to let the injury recover naturally. It took a great deal of perseverance and hard work but it has paid off.

"Early on, I was told that there was still a possibility that I could do it without surgery, but I just had to take it day-by-day and keep working hard with my rehabilitation and fitness," he said.


And it was only a month later that he discovered he was a good chance of at least putting forward his case.

"I started running again and felt pretty good, and then definitely [a chance] a few weeks ago at the trial camp when Titch really put me through my paces. I gained a lot of confidence out of that. I hadn't done a lot of field work and he chucked me in there and said, 'away you go, show us what you've got'."

He clearly impressed coach Tietjens, who was eager to include Dickson for what he offers in the lineout and restarts, plus his overall toughness.

"He's also really abrasive and very good in contact - through the back of rucks, post-tackle," Tietjens said. "He's also very skilful and a player that is superbly fit, and he's worked very hard to get where he is."

Dickson will be part of a team which is likely to be taller and more powerful than most of their rivals at the Games. They may lack the pace of some, but with Dickson and DJ Forbes back after injury, plus the return of Akira and Rieko Ioane, the team is back to the one which won in Wellington and Sydney.

Dickson said he would play at Rio's Deodoro Stadium with the knowledge he has little to lose.

"You can't really do a lot more damage. Obviously the ACL is gone. If I was to have surgery, then they would take a little bit of my patella tendon out and recreate my ACL, which would take between six to seven months to heal again. That wasn't an option if I wanted to go to Rio.

"But in saying that, after six months, you can easily rupture it again. Hopefully I get through Rio and get back to Christchurch and see my surgeon and we have the question of 'what do we do now'?"