Tietjens sets sights on 2016 Olympics

By Daniel Gilhooly

New Zealand sevens rugby maestro Gordon Tietjens has dropped his broadest hint yet that the 2016 Olympics are on his horizon.

For the fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games, coach Tietjens orchestrated a gold medal performance, overseeing a campaign that comprised five romps and a come-from-behind thriller against Australia in the final.

Not long after that 24-17 win, Tietjens wasn't his usual coy self when asked if he would stick around for six more years and lead a sevens team on to the biggest stage in sport.

"We're going to inject a lot into sevens rugby in New Zealand and, if I'm part of it that's great, we'll just see how it goes," he said.

A host of other countries are clamouring for his services before the sport's Olympic debut and it is no wonder after yet another display of astute selection and tactics ended with gold on the Delhi dais.

Tietjens said the Games campaign was his chief priority this year before the world series circuit, where perennial winners New Zealand were shunted into second place by Samoa.

"We set some goals at the start of the season and the No 1 was to win the gold medal," he said.

"The biggest challenge for me, of course, was picking the right side."

Tietjens blended his hardened core of sevens players with fringe All Blacks Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Ben Smith and Liam Messam - the latter replacing the injured Adam Thomson.

But in the final it was the likes of Kurt Baker, Sherwin Stowers, Lote Raikabula and captain DJ Forbes who had the most impact.

The high-profile group were still worthy of high praise, Tietjens said.

Forbes said the Olympics might be in the thoughts of some young players but he was not among them.

"If I was a specialist sevens player I could probably go another six years," he said. "But there are a lot of us still aiming for higher honours, which is Super 15 and maybe even, for some of them, the All Blacks."

- NZPA

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