Tietjens targets "very special" Dubai win
After falling to Fiji in the final of the HSBC Sevens World Series opener on the Gold Coast, New Zealand's coach Gordon Tietjens made a little pledge.
Speaking after the final whistle, Tietjens made it clear that he was targeting victory at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, also hinting that he had been promised added firepower for his squad.
Two key reasons for Tietjens' plucky optimism may have been the availability to him now of Kurt Baker and Sherwin Stowers. Both speedsters are proven try-scorers in Sevens and were named in his wider squad of players currently being considered for selection in Dubai.
Now 10-time Series winner Tietjens, who is also an IRB Hall of Famer, is looking to mould his chosen 12 into world-beaters, and capture a sixth Dubai title. If they can do that in a little over a week's time, they will also claw back Fiji's early Series lead.
Travelling to compete in Dubai is also something that Tietjens is looking forward to on a personal level.
“Dubai is my favourite tournament out of all of them. It’s a great tournament to win," said Tietjens.
“The facilities are first rate and the support that Emirates Airline gives us is just fantastic.
“I can remember back to when they were playing in the sand. The tournament has just grown and grown. It is a very special place.
"I have met a lot of people over the years in Dubai who now are very good friends."
It is two years since the New Zealanders, now referred to as the Sevens All Blacks, have been on the winners’ podium in Dubai and the coach is anticipating a tussle on day one with Wales, Argentina and next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts, Russia.
“Wales are the current World Champions in terms of winning the World Cup. Argentina are also very tough on their day and I have seen Russia draw with Fiji," he said.
“There are six or seven teams that could win it. The English have won over the past couple of years, but it’s a climate we like playing in and a tournament we want to win again,” he said.
Tickets remain for Dubai
Tickets to this year’s Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens are available now online through www.dubairugby7s.com and from selected Costa and MMI outlets, Virgin Megastores, Emirates Group Headquarters, dnata offices and at 7he Sevens.
Video: Dubai Highlights 2011 (Full 26-minute highlights HERE >>)