Rugby sevens player Chloe Dalton revealed she will not return to play in the AFLW in order to prepare for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Rugby sevens player Chloe Dalton revealed she will not return to play in this year's Australian Football League Women's (AFLW) season in order to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Dalton, who earned Olympic rugby sevens gold with Australia at Rio 2016, has played for AFLW team Carlton since 2018. 

Instead of crossing codes to play at Tokyo 2020 next year, Dalton is set to remain with the national rugby sevens team.

"When I looked at it, I wanted to make sure that when I get to the Olympics in 2021 I'm the best possible player that I could be, and I don't think that going back and playing another AFLW season and coming back with three or four months to prepare would be enough," she said.

"I want to be sure, particularly for my team-mates, that when I step out on the field I'm as fit and strong as possible and everything that I've been working on makes me the best team-mate.

"I don't want to ever go to an Olympics and not be at my peak."

Tokyo 2020 has been postponed to between July 23 and August 8, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but if the Games had taken place this year, Dalton would have only had a short time to prepare.

"I'm quite thankful that I have an extra year to get ready for Tokyo 2021 because looking back now I think I would have been cutting it pretty fine to come in off the back of the AFLW season and only have a few months to prepare for the Olympics," she said. 

Chloe Dalton switched codes to play in the AFLW in 2018 ©Getty Images
Chloe Dalton switched codes to play in the AFLW in 2018 ©Getty Images

The 27-year-old also claimed the year delay was a positive for the whole team.

"There's definitely positives in the fact that it's given us more time to prepare," Dalton said.

"I think for us as a squad it's definitely a positive thing. 

"We've tried to use the last few months, where there's obviously been a lot of restrictions in place and other countries may not have had access to the same training and still be able to be centralised like we have, so we've been trying to use that as much as we possibly can and from a strength and conditioning perspective to get ahead."

Australia impressed after winning rugby sevens gold at Rio 2016, claiming the World Rugby Sevens Series title in the 2017-2018 season.

New Zealand have dominated women's rugby sevens since then, however, and are considered the favourites to take gold in the Japanese capital next year. 

"Moving forward, coming up against probably our biggest opposition in New Zealand, who have obviously been really dominant over the last year or so, is going to be a massive challenge," Dalton said.

"It's working out what we can be doing individually and as a squad to get ourselves up to that level so when we meet them, whatever context that is, how we can beat them."