2014/15’s World Sevens Series kicks off with a bang as the action starts on the Gold Coast of Australia, where New Zealand are the holders.
The 2014/15 IRB World Sevens Series kicks off with a bang as the action starts on the Gold Coast of Australia, where New Zealand are the holders.
The All Blacks Sevens beat the host nation in last year’s final and will be looking to kick-off the defence of their 2013/14 Series title with a win.
Gordon Tietjens’ side won’t be alone in eyeing the trophy and with this year’s Series doubling as part of the qualification process for Sevens’ debut at the Rio Olympics, expectations of one of the best seasons to date is at high at Cbus Super Stadium.
Ultimately, the top four teams in the standings at the end of the season will gain automatic entry to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
All Blacks Sevens captain and tournament veteran, DJ Forbes, is of the same opinion in believing this season’s World Series is set to be the most competitive ever to be played.
“We, like every other team, want to start with a bang,” said Forbes, who is joined by stalwarts Tomasi Cama and Lote Raikabula in the squad. In-form Waikato wing Joe Webber is also involved.
“Everyone knows how important this Series will be with so much at stake and that will impact every tournament. The Olympics is at the back of our minds, like everyone else, but we know to have a chance at qualifying we need to do the basics and tick the boxes along the way.
“We’re excited for another year but we won’t take anything for granted.”
New Zealand begin Saturday in a pool alongside France before facing Japan and Samoa, while South Africa will take on Wales, American Samoa and Kenya. Pool C includes Fiji, Australia, Scotland, Portugal while England, Canada, Argentina and USA make up Pool D.
Last season’s Series runner-up, South Africa, have according to coach Neil Powell not had ideal preparations. However, he cautioned that his team will still be primed to challenge.
Regular captain and stalwart, forward Kyle Brown, is still busy with his rehabilitation following shoulder surgery, while a few other players were also nursing some injury niggles in the build-up to the tournament. In addition to that, Justin Geduld, Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith also played in the Currie Cup, which meant coach Powell could only get his full squad together on the eve of their departure to Australia. Veteran forward Frankie Horne will lead the Bok Sevens in his 60th consecutive Series leg, and is determined to put in a showing.
“This is a big season, not only for us, but for everyone,” he said ahead of the event. “I’m sure we will get a good taste over the weekend of what we can expect during the course of the season. Consistency will be vital, so it will require concentration and focus in each match.”
Pools for Gold Coast Sevens
Pool A: New Zealand, Samoa, France, Japan
Pool B: South Africa, Kenya, Wales, American Samoa
Pool C: Fiji, Australia, Scotland, Portugal
Pool D: England, Canada, Argentina, USA