x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Odouza could be just what the doctor ordered

The IRB Sevens series has a history of setting players on the path to fame and fortune.

The IRB Sevens series has a history of setting players on the path to fame and fortune. For one player at this year's Dubai Rugby Sevens, part of that goal has already been achieved - and with incredible haste. Uche Odouza, 22, only broke into the England sevens side midway through last season, but he wasted no time on pleasantries. The Manchester-born winger earned himself a lucrative contract with a Japanese club, Suntory Sungoliath, on the basis of one try scored for the national team.

The striking score, from his own try-line against Fiji in the United States leg of the series, was posted on YouTube, and by the end of the day his Australian agent had struck a deal. The England sevens coach, Ben Ryan, said: "He scored a try from the length of the field where he beat every Fijian in San Diego at the start of the game. "It went on YouTube, the Japanese saw it and 30 seconds later they wanted to sign him. It was that straight forward.

"So off he went, for a King's ransom, to go and taste Japanese life. He has thrived on it and loves it. "He has some hard decisions now, because a whole host of Guinness Premiership clubs have asked him back, and they also want to keep him in Japan. "He is a bright lad, a straight-A student who could also have been a doctor. "He wants to study medicine as well. He has a few options." Ryan believes Odouza could be the star of this weekend's sevens - but admits he may not even get a place in the starting seven, given the form of the equally exciting Leeds winger Tom Biggs.

"Tom played for England Saxons in the summer and also scored a wonder try against New Zealand in the London Sevens last year, on the buzzer to beat them," added Ryan. "He is up against Uche Odouza, who has been one of our stand-outs in the last few tournaments. "They are high up the list of potential top end wingers in the domestic game in the future." pradley@thenational.ae