New Zealand hoping to open Series in style
By Tom Chick
Following their 15-a-side counterparts winning The Rugby Championship after a pulsating victory against South Africa last weekend, the focus now turns to another of New Zealand’s defending world champions, the All Black Sevens.
Having won the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow shortly after they won an 11th HSBC Sevens World Series title, New Zealand head into this weekend’s Gold Coast Sevens at Skilled Park still as the team to beat.
Returning to the squad for the first round of the HSBC Sevens World Series after a long-term injury is Scott Curry, and understandably he is raring to get on the field at Skilled Park.
"I am absolutely stoked [to be back],” said Curry.
“I have had a pretty horror run with injuries the last two years but I am just happy to be back in the team now, a Rugby World Cup Sevens winning team at that, so even better.”
Many sides around New Zealand have changed their head coaches in the off-season in the hope of preventing New Zealand winning a 12th World Series title.
But Curry and his teammates, including Sherwin Stowers, will be led once again by Sir Gordon Tietjens, who has been in charge of the All Blacks Sevens since the Series began.
"He [Tietjens] is an awesome coach and his record speaks for itself really,” said Curry. “From a players perspective to have him still here."
"It is a massive advantage,” added Stowers.
“Nothing changes for us in terms of preparation and we trust our coach; he is the best coach in the world. It is lucky for us that we have him, he knows the game in and out.”
But, as a coach who always strives for perfection, the Gold Coast Sevens is one tournament that has eluded the recently knighted Tietjens.
The All Blacks Sevens last won the Australia Sevens when it was in Adelaide, but have lost in the final to Fiji in both of the two finals at Skilled Park and will no doubt want to assert an authority at the earliest possible opportunity this weekend.
"There isn’t too much extra pressure as defending champions, but it is a good position to be in,” said Stowers.
“This a new Series though and it is important for us to start with a bang and hopefully go one better this year.”
New Zealand face matches with the USA, Tonga and Kenya, on day one of the tournament.
They will be without the injured Gillies Kaka, a member of the 2012/13 IRB Sevens Dream Team, but once again will look to their more experienced players for inspiration.
Tom Chick travels to all nine rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, bringing you closer to the action on and off the pitch. You can follow him @tomchick85. You can also follow the All Black Sevens on Twitter @nz7s for all their latest information.