Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

Tietjens Looking For Good Start To World Sevens Series

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Peter Martinez of NZPA

Wellington, Nov 26 NZPA - New Zealand sevens rugby coach Gordon Tietjens is confident his squad will give a good account of themselves in the opening two legs of the world series which begins next month.

Earlier this month, Tietjens expressed concerns about the fitness levels of his players but pronounced himself satisfied today after spending the last week pushing his squad through the pain barrier mentally.

Tietjens has won eight of the 10 world series contested since 1999 and one of his building blocks has always been fitness.

But because of a mandatory two-week break following the end of the provincial competition, sevens fitness levels were not as good as they need to be.

Tietjens has to watch from afar as some of his major rivals play at warm-up tournaments.

The Pacific teams have been playing in the islands, while (defending champions) South Africa and Fiji played in the final in Singapore last week and are also playing in Sri Lanka this weekend.

"We may be a bit underdone, but perhaps we will go into these two tournament fresh," he told NZPA.

"We have worked pretty hard in getting up to speed in the past week and yesterday, we had a tournament simulation in which we played four games against a composite Waikato side a Bay of Plenty side and among ourselves."

Tietjens today named a squad containing a mix of old hands and two new faces in Bay of Plenty's Toby Arnold and Wellington's Buxton Popoalii for the first two legs at Dubai and George, South Africa.

"Toby and Buxton, both fullbacks for their provinces, have got wide range of skill suited to sevens -- they are very quick and very evasive.

" They lack experience at international level but are capable footballers and I'm expecting big things from them."

New Zealand's 2008/09 season was hit by untimely injuries throughout, and Tietjens' squad lost all three finals it reached, in South Africa, New Zealand and England.

Tietjens will now be looking to several of his experienced campaigners to get things back on track and improve on last season's fourth placing.

"Last season had its challenges with the injuries we suffered, but these first two tournaments are a good opportunity for us to start fresh and also begin building towards next year's Commonwealth Games.

"We have lost a number of players from last year's squad such as Tim Nanai Williams and Nigel Hunt.

"But I still have a core of experienced old hands such as Zar Lawrence, Tomasi Cama, Lote Raikabula, and DJ Forbes in the squad, while Ben Souness is a very promising player," said Tietjens.

"Onosai Auva'a missed out on a Super 14 contract with the Blues and has been included in the squad - he is a talented flanker - while we have some real pace with Toby Arnold and Counties Manukau's Sherwin Stowers."

He expected the series will be more competitive than ever with the likes of South Africa, Fiji, England, Samoa, Kenya, Argentina and even Scotland all quality sides.

"It's always important to start well in the series and the Dubai and George tournaments are vital.

"We have to acclimatise quickly and with several new players, it's important that we start developing combinations.

" We have got the talent. If they play to their abilities we'll certainly push the other sides."

New Zealand have been grouped with World Cup sevens finalists Argentina as well as Portugal and France in Pool D for the opening leg of the series in Dubai on December 4-5.

All articles and comments on Voxy.co.nz have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.