Aviva Premiership
Premiership braced for Olympics disruption
ESPN Staff
July 6, 2014
Niki Goneva could be under pressure to play for Fiji © Getty Images

Teams in the Aviva Premiership are bracing themselves for a season where their top overseas players are likely to be under pressure to play Sevens for their country.

Next season's IRB World Series doubles as qualifiers for the Olympic games, a switch that, according to IRB Regulation 9, means countries can pick any players they want and expect them to be released by their clubs.

This could have a big effect on the Premiership's top players such as Niki Goneva, Schalk Brits and the Pisi brothers as their respective countries could call them up mid-season, outside of the traditional international windows, and take them away from club duty.

Such a call is likely to have a bearing on player's future contracts, according to Tigers CEO Simon Cohen.

"We take into account, when negotiating and offering players contracts, their availability over the season," Cohen told The Rugby Paper. "There if it follows that if their availability is compromised, then so are their prospects.

"If we lost a player who was an integral part of our 15s set-up to a Sevens competition, it would be hugely disappointing. In fact, that would be an understatement, but everybody has their own agenda so there is a possibility it could happen."

He added: "All nations need to work out what their priorities are, whether it's to grow the 15-a-side game or Sevens, but if they pick players for Sevens and take them out of the 15s for any period of time, it will compromise their chances in 15s."

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