JARRED Hodges knows what it takes to make the grade.
The former Australian Rugby Sevens assistant coach is currently on a mission to help unearth the country's next seven-a-side superstar with an eye on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Now in his role as Rugby Australia project manager, Hodges and Rugby Australia's high performance team are in phase two of the Dream Bigtime tour which visited Port Macquarie on May 20.
The tour will cover most areas of NSW and Queensland with the top 130 players to be invited to a four-day training camp in Sydney in July.
Two squads of 20 will be chosen to compete around the world and ultimately, up to four players could progress into the Australian Sevens team for the 2024 Olympic Games.
"The Dream Big Time program is two-fold," Hodges said.
"We want to spread the word around rugby and the opportunities through rugby in particular targeting Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander men and women, boys and girls from the ages of 14 to 25."
Hodges said Port Macquarie was known for its large and talented Aboriginal community.
"We also know through this region that rugby, footy and afl ... it's the mecca of sport," he said.
"We know there's talent here and we want to come and test it and hopefully unearth some special ones."
The project was aimed at providing opportunities for First Nations people - not competing with other codes.
"It looks at unearthing and then supporting two to four players for the 2024 Olympics," Hodges said.
"Why now? It's time. It's well overdue.
"We're seeing through other codes the talent that exists within our people and rugby feels that we need to do more to hopefully tap into some of that talent.
"It's not about competing with other sports, it's about providing choice for the community."
Already the program has covered 4500 kilometres in phase one which encompassed western NSW, through the centre of Australia up to Uluru and Alice Springs.
The second phase started in Sydney and will wrap up in Hervey Bay before it tracks back down inland.
"The big target is the 2024 Olympics," Hodges said.
"Planning has already starting throughout talent identification and development programs.
"2024 will be on us before we know.
"There's a real thirsting community for rugby in particular for more rugby so that's what we're about. We're about providing opportunity and access."
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