15 Apr 2015

Read turns back on Olympics chances

5:26 pm on 15 April 2015

All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read has turned down the opportunity to play for New Zealand in the rugby sevens tournament at next year's Rio Olympics.

The rangy loose forward follows first-five Aaron Cruden in deciding not to try and win gold in the event when the shortened form of rugby returns to the Olympic schedule for the first time since 1924.

Kieran Read is all concentration at Crusaders training

Kieran Read is all concentration at Crusaders training Photo: Photosport

"I was (keen to go Rio) but I won't be," Read told reporters in Christchurch. "It would be a hell of an opportunity but I will probably focus on making the All Blacks team."

Read is the presumptive favourite to replace Richie McCaw as All Blacks captain when the fellow loose forward retires from the game, which is expected to be at the conclusion of the World Cup later this year.

The All Blacks also face a challenging 2016 with several highly experienced players taking up lucrative European contracts, while others like McCaw, Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu are expected to retire.

"There is also the leadership (role) within the All Blacks, as well, which is probably a bigger part of (the decision)," Read said, while adding he had spoken to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen about the challenges in 2016.

The Crusaders were rocked on Tuesday by news Colin Slade (R) is leaving for France

The Crusaders were rocked on Tuesday by news Colin Slade (R) is leaving for France Photo: Photosport

Veteran sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has said that any All Blacks interested in the Olympics squad would need to play several tournaments on the sevens World Series, meaning they would miss about six rounds of next year's Super Rugby tournament.

They would also likely miss all of the All Blacks Tests next year until the end-of-season tour.

The All Blacks host Wales for a three-Test series next June ahead of the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship.

Local media have reported that Julian Savea, his younger brother Ardie, Liam Messam, Ben Smith, Victor Vito, Hosea Gear and Beauden Barrett are considering whether to play at Rio, with a preliminary expanded squad expected to be named by late May.

All have played for the sevens side in the past, while code-hopping midfielder Sonny Bill Williams has also said he was interested in playing at the Olympics.