Rugby union has always had to compete with other codes like Aussie Rules and rugby league for talent as well as for public affection Down Under. But the pendulum could swing in union's favour now that sevens is in the Olympics. 'We do have to compete with rugby league and AFL, but we have the guys in our midst and its just a matter of flushing them out,' says Australia sevens coach Michael O'Connor. 'Sevens is growing in stature in Australia and we are starting to recognise its importance and what it can do for Australia down the track. 'In Australia it is hugely important in that if they [government authorities] think there is a chance to get on the Olympic podium, you will get extra funding from the government,' O'Connor (pictured) says. 'This has got to help and from an awareness perspective, I think it is a good thing,' he says. 'I believe we will see a lot more sevens tournaments now being played in Australia.' The IRB has always maintained the view that once sevens is in the Olympics, it would help grow the game in countries where rugby is still a fledgling sport - China and Russia for instance - and also in places where the game is still not played (the IRB has 117 members while there are 205 countries in the Olympic family). But the Australian - and O'Connor's - viewpoint suggests sevens as an Olympic sport will also benefit the bigger and more established nations who have always regarded the abbreviated version as something of a recreational sport. O'Connor acknowledges this had always been the case - and the problem - in Australia. 'Our problem is that we don't play enough sevens and it has been a bit too much of a pub rugby in the past. 'There hasn't been a lot of quality sevens tournaments to pick sides from but that is changing now. 'We took a squad to Darwin and the quality of the teams there was really high calibre and it was a great preparation. We want to see more of these tournaments spread across Australia,' O'Connor adds. 'Having Robbie Deans [the New Zealander in charge of the Wallabies] involved as a national coach and having seen how successful the transition from sevens to 15s has been for New Zealand, he is very eager to bolster the cause of sevens in Australia.' Already there have been positive signs - O'Connor's 'Wallaby Sevens' seem to have gelled as a unit this season and are proving to be a serious threat to the more established teams like New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa. 'It's an exciting game and this IRB series is something that's quite coveted now within the players, particularly the young guys who are out of school,' O'Connor says. 'It's a great experience for them, to see whether they can step up to the mark or not and benchmark themselves against the best in the world.' Short, fast and furious, O'Connor likened sevens to cricket's widely popular Twenty20 format. 'The whole awareness and excitement around sevens is akin to Twenty20,' he says. But O'Connor was unsure if winning the Olympic gold would be as big as winning the World Cup in rugby. 'I don't know. I think it is like saying winning gold in golf would be akin to winning a major like the US Open or British Open. probably not, but certainly up there.'