Despite the Tokyo Games unfortunate postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark Laidlaw is hopeful that some rising stars would still be available for the Tokyo Games 2021.
Before the games were rescheduled from 2020 to 2021, New Zealand had several players from 4 out of 5 different super rugby teams set to compete for the games.
“We’ve made no secret that the hope is we’ll still get the same players,” said Laidlaw, speaking to Newstalk ZB Sport.
“While it’s moved in the last year, year and a half, since we agreed with the Super Rugby clubs which players were going to come in, our hope is that those players will be available either at the start of the year, or it looks like certain windows maybe after Super Rugby Aotearoa, which finishes the first weekend in May.
“That would still give a player three months, or 12 weeks, to be ready for the Olympics.
“We’ve had good conversations with the players and the Super Rugby clubs.
“We’re pretty comfortable we know where we’re at with those players and when they’ll join us, if they’ll join us.
“We’ll just get through this little period and see if the world starts to get a bit more certain, then we’ll get a bit more certain on those players too.”
Some of the players expected to join the squad were Clarke, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Salesi Rayasi and Scott Gregory.
Clarke had an impressive Super Rugby Season with club Blues before he earned his spot on the New Zealand 15-a-side in September. Ending 2020 with 5 caps with the All Blacks.
“We’re hopeful,” Laidlaw added.
“Caleb loves his time here, he keeps in contact regularly with the players, myself and some of the staff, so we’ve had good conversations with Caleb.
“He’s had good conversations with the Blues and All Blacks around wanting to be involved, so we’re really positive about Caleb.
“Once we get through this little period, if it becomes certain the Olympics are going to go ahead – and we are confident that will be the case, then we’re really positive around Caleb being in the mix again.”
Despite being the crowd favorites at the Rio Olympics in 2016, New Zealand took a hard finish in fifth after losing in the Quarter-finals. With Fiji then winning the first ever Rugby Olympics Gold.
Edited by: Katrina Andrews