Rugby: Sevens seek to uphold proud record

By Campbell Burnes

Gillies Kaka splits the South Africa's defence during the match between New Zealand and South Africa on day two of the 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series. Photo / Darren Taumata.
Gillies Kaka splits the South Africa's defence during the match between New Zealand and South Africa on day two of the 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series. Photo / Darren Taumata.

The All Blacks Sevens hold a proud record at the iconic Hong Kong tournament and should seek to use that as a motivating force in their quest for Cup success this weekend.

After surprising many pundits with a tactically astute display to win the Canada Sevens last month after misfiring in Las Vegas, New Zealand are in third place, one and two points behind Fiji and South Africa respectively going into the seventh leg of the World Series.

New Zealand have won 11 Cup finals, second only to Fiji with 15, and some of the game's brightest talents have made their name in Hong Kong, among them Glen Osborne, Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen, who were central to New Zealand's three triumphs from 1994-96.

Last season saw New Zealand lose the Cup final 33-19 to Fiji. They last won in 2014, 26-7 over England.

Waikato's Isaac Te Tamaki returns for his first outing since the Cape Town event in December, while Pita Ah Ki, released by the Hurricanes, plays his first tournament since the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Sonny Bill Williams is said to be over injuries which ruled him out of the Las Vegas and Vancouver events.

"We have three tough pool games in this tournament," said coach Gordon Tietjens. "Like every team they'll all look to get themselves up for Hong Kong and it'll be no different this time."

The All Blacks Sevens played their opening pool game late last night against France.

The New Zealand women's team, whose Atlanta Sevens campaign kicks off this morning, will again face a hurdle from the in-form Australians, who lead by 20 points. New Zealand coach Sean Horan has named three debutantes in Theresa Fitzpatrick, Terina Te Tamaki and Stacey Waaka.

SKY Sport's pop-up channel 55 will carry Hong Kong coverage, while SKY Sport will show the women's Atlanta finals from 9.10am tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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