New Zealand Rugby 7s star Joe Webber keeping his Olympic Rugby options open

New Zealand Rugby 7s star Joe Webber keeping his Olympic Rugby options open

Joe Webber was one of the stars in Gold Coast gaining a spot on the IRB 7s Dream Team after New Zealand were victorious in the final against Australia and dominant across the opening weekend of the HSBC World Sevens Series

Joe Webber was a star turn on his return to the All Blacks Sevens team on the world circuit at the weekend, but he is not rushing to commit to the Olympic code just yet.

The Waikato wing/fullback only turned 20 in August and feels he can still afford to keep his options open between the sevens and 15-a-side games for now after earning hefty praise from national sevens coach Gordon Tietjens for his part in helping the Kiwi side win the IRB sevens world series opener on Australia's Gold Coast for the first time.

Having stepped away from sevens last year to chase a berth in the New Zealand Under-20 side that played in this year's IRB Junior World Championship in France, Webber was brought back into the squad by Tietjens for the 2013-14 series and made a big impression in the opening round.

"He's just adapted so, so well," said Tietjens.

"He's a great sevens player, a lovely step, acceleration, got all the qualities.

"So it was great to see him perform like he did for someone so young."

Webber was named in the tournament team alongside fellow Waikato player Tim Mikkelson and Scott Curry.

The second world series tournament is in Dubai at the end of next month and Webber said he would have a couple of days off and then get back into training.

But despite the lure of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the lucrative tier one contracts being offered to the leading players following the latest national rugby players collective agreement, Webber is still keen to play both forms of the game for a while longer before deciding which path to follow.

Away from sevens in 2013 until now, he has had a big year in the 15s game, playing for NZ U-20 in France, being part of the Chiefs' wider training group, helping Hamilton Marist win their first Waikato Breweries Shield club title in 10 years and being part of the Waikato ITM Cup squad.

"I had to choose out of under-20s and sevens and I wanted to play under-20s," Webber said.

He had been told it would propel him into Super Rugby, but it didn't quite work out that way.

"But I was proud to play under-20s and it was good to be part of it although it was a shame we didn't win it."

Now he is hungry to advance his game in both forms of rugby.

While he got few chances with Waikato this year, Webber thrived on being part of the Chiefs environment earlier in the season and getting expert coaching from Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith.

And now it is back to sevens with master coach Tietjens.

"I think I want to try and leave my options open.

"I'll play sevens over the summer and see how ITM Cup goes next year and then maybe make a decision.

"I'm loving sevens at the moment and I prefer to play sevens probably. I actually enjoy it more."

In fact touch is his favourite sport and he said if it was professional he would play that, buthe admits he missed the sevens circuit this year and thrived on his return last weekend in Australia.

Webber said Tietjens put no pressure on young players to concentrate on sevens and encouraged his current approach of trying to play both versions.