Preview: Kiwis eye a perfect dozen
Thu, 08 May 2014 15:13
New Zealand are just four points away from their 12th IRB Sevens World Series crown.
However, they are determined to finish off in style at the London leg, the ninth and final of the series, at the weekend.
The Kiwis are currently 19 points ahead of second-place South Africa in the Series standings and can only be overtaken if they completely bomb out - a scenario that is highly unlikely, given their impressive recent form.
Three points - by winning the lowest tier Shield competition - will already ensure the BlitzBokke can't overtake New Zealand. In that case, New Zealand's superior points difference will hand them the title.
Anything better, such as playing in the third-tier Bowl semifinals and gaining five points, would further cement their status as the world's premier Sevens outfit.
New Zealand captain DJ Forbes said his team would like to seal the title by winning the London tournament.
"You would like to think we have pretty much done the job," Forbes said of their 19-point lead, but added that they still have to go out there and get the additional points required.
They are drawn with hosts England in a pool, but that is not a challenge that frightens the in-form Kiwis.
"It is a tough way to do it, but we'll have to do it," Forbes said, adding: "We just have to keep ticking boxes."
England, of course, have some motivation of their own.
"As an England player, playing in front of a sell-out crowd at Twickenham is a huge occasion and having added experience in the squad will certainly be a benefit," said head coach Simon Amor.
Meanwhile South Africa are also determined to end their season on a high, after flopping at the quarterfinal stage in the last two tournament - having held the series lead before the Hong Kong leg in March.
Injured Springbok captain Kyle Brown joined BlitzBok coach Neil Powell in encouraging the team to finish the World Series on a high note.
The South Africans will be looking to consolidate second spot on the World Series standings, with Fiji just 10 points behind in third place.
The BlitzBokke have reached five Cup finals this season and emerged victorious in the Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas tournaments.
Last week in Glasgow the team lost in the Plate semifinal and will be determined to deliver a much-improved performance at Twickenham.
Coach Neil Powell said the team is determined to play much better in London.
"Every player is determined and motivated to lift his game to the standards which saw us reach all those Cup finals and secure tournament victories in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas," explained Powell.
"The guys want to show their pride for the jersey and play better for themselves, the team and their supporters."
Pool A: New Zealand, England, Argentina, Wales
Pool B: Canada, Kenya, Samoa, United States
Pool C: Fiji, Australia, Spain, Japan
Pool D: Scotland, South Africa, France, Portugal
Day One schedule - Saturday, May 10:
(Kick-off is local time - GMT plus one hour)
Match 1: Canada v Samoa, 09.00
Match 2: Kenya v United States, 09.22
Match 3: Fiji v Spain, 09.44
Match 4: Australia v Japan, 10.06
Match 5: Scotland v France, 10.28
Match 6: South Africa v Portugal, 10.50
Match 7: New Zealand v Argentina, 11.12
Match 8: England v Wales, 11.34
Match 9: Canada v United States, 12.06
Match 10: Kenya v Samoa, 12.28
Match 11: Fiji v Japan, 12.50
Match 12: Australia v Spain, 13.12
Match 13: Scotland v Portugal, 13.34
Match 14: South Africa v France, 13.56
Match 15: New Zealand v Wales, 14.18
Match 16: England v Argentina, 14.40
Match 17: Samoa v United States, 15.32
Match 18: Canada v Kenya, 15.54
Match 19: Spain v Japan, 16.16
Match 20: Fiji v Australia, 16.38
Match 21: France v Portugal, 17.00
Match 22: Scotland v South Africa, 17:22
Match 23: Argentina v Wales, 17.44
Match 24: New Zealand v England, 18.06
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