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Irish Olympic rugby sevens star Andrew Smith reveals why the move was scary

ANDREW SMITH was in Krakow when Ireland booked their place in Paris – but he knew he was risking everything by taking the detour via Galway.

Smith, 23, came through the sevens programme after previously playing for Leinster and was part of the Irish team in June last year when they secured their place at this month's Olympic Games.

Ireland’s top star Andrew Smith admitted that the transition back to sevens takes time
Andrew Smith and Ireland travel to Tours next week for their pre-Olympic training camp

But as he celebrated, he knew he would retire from playing Sevens after signing a contract with Connacht.

And he was aware that playing for Pete Wilkins' team came with the risk of being overlooked this year.

He admitted: “You never know how the club will react or whatever.

“But they supported us and were happy.

“We were in South Africa and Pete Wilkins just pulled me in for a chat and said they were open to working with the IRFU and making it happen.

“It was nice to know that they would support me in my decision.

“It has been my dream since I joined the program.

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“I enjoyed the 100-meter sprint, even though I wasn't particularly good at it. But it's incredibly cool to be able to take part in it and compete in an Olympic Games where so many athletes have taken part.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't know how many people get the chance to say they are an Olympian.”

However, returning from 15-a-side rugby to sevens rugby is not the same as riding a bike.

SEVEN SWITCH

Smith continued: “It's quite complicated. It takes some time. The pass lengths are different, the running style is different. So it's difficult to adapt in a short period of time.

“The next few weeks are incredibly exciting and the transition will be thrilling.”

And he is pleased with how he and Leinster superstar Hugo Keenan have adapted to the switch back to Sevens.

Smith continued: “He is the X-factor, he has already shown that on the world stage, I’m sure everyone will be excited to see him play.

“It was a big change for Hugo. I was there a week early, which may have helped me, but Hugo's performance was good. He had no problems adjusting.”

Ireland travel to Tours next week for their pre-Olympic training camp and Smith is confident the team can perform well in France.

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He added: “I think this group is so talented, we are more than capable of achieving something special.

“We should be allowed to dream about it, focus on just one week at a time, train hard and enjoy it and see what happens in the end.”