New Zealand poised to claim crown
May 2, 2013
New Zealand have won just one title this season © IRB
New Zealand have enjoyed ongoing success in the IRB Sevens World Series because of the depth of their playing ranks and the consistency of their form, coach Gordon Tietjens said ahead of the team's bids to wrap up another title in Glasgow.
New Zealand will secure a third consecutive series crown, and their 11th since the championship launched in 1999, if they finish in the top six this weekend. They have 132 points after seven of the nine tournaments, despite having won just one round, in South Africa, with the Blitzbokke (100 points), Fiji (98) and Samoa (94) locked in a close battle for second place. They are the only team with a perfect record of reaching the quarter-finals, and they have contested five finals.
"It was disappointing not to win them but ... five finals, it's been quite a good year for us," Tietjens said. "In the Sevens game you can lose players through injury. We've had a hell of a year in terms of injuries, and the dynamics of the team changes in a huge way. In our last tournaments in Japan and Hong Kong, we had nine players new to the All Blacks Sevens team so we did pretty well on the face of it."
The injuries have seen Tietjens expose a new tier of players, including standout performers Gillies Kaka, Sam Dickson and Trinity Spooner-Neera.
Tietjens said that four injured players not picked for the Scotland and England tournaments - captain DJ Forbes, Toby Arnold, David Raikuna and Dickson - would have been considered had the world series race been tighter, but he wanted to "look after" those players ahead of the World Cup in Moscow in June.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin