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Tietjens Stays Put As NZ Seek To Extend Lead

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tietjens Stays Put As NZ Seek To Extend Lead

NZPA Correspondent

Sydney, March 17 NZPA - New Zealand rugby sevens' supremo Gordon Tietjens has distanced himself from reports linking him to a coaching role at South Africa's Eastern Province.

The Port Elizabeth-based union - once coached by former All Blacks coach Alex Wyllie - appear confident of securing the services of Tietjens and New Zealand's most capped halfback Justin Marshall for this year's Currie Cup.

Tietjens confirmed he had spoken with Eastern Province officials but would not be available because South Africa's domestic competition coincides with New Zealand's preparations for the defence of their Commonwealth Games gold medal in India.

"I've had brief discussions, there's nothing permanent," Tietjens told NZPA from Adelaide where New Zealand contest the fifth round of the IRB world circuit from Friday.

"It won't happen because it clashes with Commonwealth Games preparations."

Tietjens, who is off contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union after October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, said Eastern Province envisaged an advisory role -- not the position of head coach.

Eastern Province hope to gain promotion to the Currie Cup's premier division and eventually join an expanded Super rugby competition as the Southern Kings.

They lost out to the Melbourne Rebels when Sanzar, the sport's southern hemisphere controlling body, added another franchise for next year's Super 15.

With sevens rugby an Olympic sport from 2016 in Rio, Tietjens has received feelers from United States and China.

Tietjens' pressing concern is ensuring New Zealand maintain their series lead at the Adelaide Oval, where Samoa loom as their greatest threat.

New Zealand won the first two legs in Dubai and South Africa but were eliminated by Samoa in the semifinals at Wellington before the Pacific Islanders beat them in the Las Vegas final.

"They know the game inside out and have very good players in Mikaele Pesamino and Uale Mai," Tietjens said.

"Like us they've been in three finals, we're probably the form teams at the moment."

New Zealand lead at the halfway mark of the eight-leg series with 84 points.

Samoa are on 70 while perennial powerhouse Fiji lurk on 68.

Tietjens has a largely unchanged squad from the Wellington and Las Vegas tournaments.

The only significant change is Bay of Plenty's Toby Arnold replacing injured Counties Manukau speedster Sherwin Stowers.

Stowers will be in contention for the Hong Kong leg between March 26-28 if he passes a fitness test.

Tietjens names his squad for Hong Kong on Sunday.

NZ start their pool play against Scotland on Friday night (8.08pm NZT) and then play Tonga (4.13pm) and Argentina (8.18pm) on Saturday ahead of Sunday's knockout phases.

New Zealand squad: Kurt Baker (Taranaki), Tomasi Cama (Manawatu), DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau), Paul Grant (Otago), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Zar Lawrence (Bay of Plenty), Fritz Lee (Counties Manukau), Lote Raikabula (Manawatu), Ben Souness (Taranaki), Toby Arnold (Bay of Plenty), Nafi Tuitavake (North Harbour), Save Tokula (Waikato).

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