New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner has “a 50-50 chance” of making the Olympic rugby team, U.S. coach Mike Friday said, according to an ESPN report Tuesday.
“But if he stays on this trajectory then it’s only going one way, and that’s up,” Friday said, according to the report.
Ebner, who announced his rugby return with an Olympic goal March 15, debuted for the U.S. national team at a World Series stop in Singapore last weekend. Watch his highlights here.
Ebner’s chances of making the Olympic team were “10 or 20 percent” when he told Friday of his rugby plan in the winter, the coach said, according to ESPN.
“I said to Nate there are no guarantees he will make the Olympics squad, and he gets that,” Friday said, according to ESPN. “This isn’t a PR stunt, we haven’t got time for that. But it would be great for USA rugby if he makes it.”
The U.S. typically puts its best players on the 12-man roster for World Series stops, providing a look into the top hopefuls for the 12-man Olympic team that will be named later this year.
The next World Series stop is in Paris in mid-May. The U.S. roster has not been announced.
Ebner, 27, has been mostly a special-teams player for the Patriots since being drafted in the sixth round in 2012.
Ebner was a rugby standout a decade ago for U.S. junior teams at World Championships and at Ohio State, before he walked onto the Buckeyes football team as a junior.