Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Joe Simpson eyes Team GB Sevens route into Eddie Jones' England plans

England boss Eddie Jones has assured Joe Simpson that chasing his Olympic dream this summer will not affect his future Test chances.

Simpson has forced his way into Team GB's 25-man Sevens wider training squad, but the Wasps scrum-half was concerned that any participation in Rio would put an end to his England career.

The 27-year-old - who has one England Test cap to his name, against Georgia in 2011 - held talks with Jones and had those fears allayed.

Simpson, though, admits he faces a tall order in trying to switch from 15-a-side to Sevens for the Games.

"My main concern would be that by going to the Olympics and agreeing to be in the squad for GB that it would hinder my international career," said Simpson, whose Sevens commitments take him out of the running for England's three-Test tour to Australia in June.

"I've still got ambitions to represent England at the highest level internationally, so I didn't want that to be affected, that was my one major concern.

"That was something that I spoke to (Team GB Sevens coach) Simon Amor about and asked him to speak to Eddie Jones.

"I spoke to Eddie Jones personally and he said, 'No, I actually think the Sevens could be quite good for you, it won't hold you back in the future and it won't be counted or held against you'.

"He said, 'Go off and give it a go and when you come back get back into 15s and we'll see how you go'.

"That will be a complete change in physical fitness and robustness.

"So I'll have to have a big old sit-down with all the coaches and conditioners and make sure I know what I'm getting myself in for."

Simpson will put his Sevens aims on hold on Saturday when Wasps face Exeter Chiefs in their Aviva Premiership semi-final.

Wasps' first league play-off campaign in eight years neatly underscores their rehabilitation from the brink of bankruptcy three years ago to becoming one of the richest clubs in rugby.

Simpson has endured and enjoyed that transition as the club have settled into their new Coventry roots, and now he hopes Dai Young's side can capitalise at the league's sharp end.

Injuries have continually denied Simpson the chance to add to his one Test cap, with setbacks again costing the livewire nine the opportunity to fight for a Six Nations call-up this term under Jones.

The pacy scrum-half hopes he can maintain his fine form in the play-offs, before then turning attention to Sevens, and an entire overhaul in training and preparation.

Team GB will name a 12-man Olympics squad on July 19, with Simpson determined to make the final cut.

"I feel like I've probably been in the form of my life this season, really pushing for a Six Nations spot and the summer tour, but injury just came at an unlucky time and I feel I'm playing good rugby now I'm back," said Simpson.

"I just want to be playing at the highest level I can. The Sevens call came as something I was extremely surprised about.

"I hadn't gone out and asked anyone, or gone down any back avenues, but I was immensely proud of them even wanting to speak to me.

"Then being named in the squad is an achievement for me in itself. So I'm delighted with that but the hard work starts as soon as this season finishes.

"So as soon as we wrap up here I'll get my Sevens hat on.

"At the moment I'll just concentrate on 15s and Exeter and hopefully the final too, but when it does come to Sevens it will be a bit of a transition.

"It will be mentally pretty tough, running yourself into the ground, because those Sevens boys are freakishly fit.

"So I'll just be looking to try to keep up with them and get to their level over the first few weeks, and try to get some game-time and experience under my belt."


From Belfast Telegraph