Choosing the twelve players that would fulfil their Olympic dream was a long process, full of hard work and lots of commitment. But now it's been named it's allowed us to focus on our game plan while in Buenos Aires.
The actual naming of the squad was very hard. The decision was difficult in the knowledge that all those involved deserved their opportunity, although also understanding that we could only pick twelve players to travel to Rio.
We had two long and tough seasons on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and they helped us develop a team and, in a way, it was nice to have a squad of twenty players at the highest level who all played their part.
From the start we said we would not select only by name or reputation and we did that. We needed players to fit perfectly on our game plan.
We now have a fully complemented squad with two or three players that can win possession, two playmakers, two speedsters, those that can clean out rucks. What we were looking for was players that could adapt to the style we want to play and in that sense, those selected are the best.
I want to thank all those players that were not selected. Their nobility in accepting our decision was much appreciated, they gave their all and I can only tell them that we had to select twelve.
I admire their strength and will and how they congratulated their friends that made the squad who in turn offered their support in such a tough moment. That relationship between my players is one that fills my with pride.
We needed to think about the rotation that will take place during the Olympics and have every position covered with players that can either start or come on during the game.
In selecting Pumas Juan Imhoff and Matías Moroni we have options. Juan can play wing and prop and Tute is a centre, a wing and a hooker, regardless of the fact they are world-class players.
We took Juan to the HSBC London Sevens and we loved what we saw in the few minutes we had him on the field. He needs no introduction and he was very keen to join us ahead of the Games. His speed and nose for the try is an asset as well as his power if he is with the forwards.
Seeing how the other different Olympic squads have been named, it is clear that specialist sevens players were preferred. Except for Sonny Bill Williams and Juan – I am not including Matias here as he started in sevens and has been involved a lot – there were almost no big names from fifteens rugby.
Working with our twelve selected players, we focused on our game plan in our first week and will start preparing for the pool opponents next week. We are throwing everything into our first game against the USA as it a team that is on level terms with ours. Only after that game, we’ll focus on Fiji and Brazil.
We are, obviously, going to Rio with the goal of playing for a medal – that is at least a place in the semi-final - and will take it from there.
Although we were close to Rio training recently and we saw the Deodoro Stadium from the road, we did not visit. It seems a very nice place where we’ll see rugby of the best quality.
Every team has been preparing for the Olympic Games for some time and unless Olympic nerves play a part, I am sure the standard will be higher than what we’ve seen in the Series in an incredible setting.