Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Rugby sevens: With Rio in sight, now is no time to drop the ball

New Zealand's All Blacks teams celebrate with the men and women's trophies at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow, Russia. Photo / AP
New Zealand's All Blacks teams celebrate with the men and women's trophies at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow, Russia. Photo / AP

Four things New Zealand can do to sustain sevens success through to Rio de Janeiro:

1. Sign specialists
This is more of a problem for the men. Sir Gordon Tietjens is reluctant to use anyone not conditioned to sevens rather than fifteens. He used one Super rugby player, Waisake Naholo, during the World Cup. Details need to be sorted as to how that impacts professional rugby but sevens-specific contracts are expected.

In all likelihood only a handful of current All Blacks and Super rugby players (rangy loose forwards and pacy backs) need apply.

2. Market the 'sevens sisters'
The Moscow recruits appeared tremendous ambassadors; courteous, obliging and exemplary of conduct. The NZRU marketing department must surely only need to don their coats and grab a bucket to collect the sponsor offers raining in.

3. Restraints of trade
The serious side of the business. The NZRU needs to ensure all parties with intellectual property attached to the Olympic cause keep schtum. New Zealand's success is one thing but the continued improvement of heavyweight countries like Russia, the United States and China justifies getting the lawyers on the case.

4. Target code-crackers
Women's coach Sean Horan says it has been a priority, driven by last year's recruiting programme. An inaugural world series title and a World Cup is compelling evidence. Kayla McAlister and Portia Woodman were recruited from netball while Tyla Nathan-Wong excelled at touch. Tietjens has done something similar with aerial specialist Sam Dickson who was playing Aussie Rules.

- NZ Herald

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