Rugby: ABs sevens rest after 'ridiculously hot' tournament

By Campbell Burnes

Vilimoni Kordi of New Zealand races away to score a try during the mens pool match between New Zealand and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.
Vilimoni Kordi of New Zealand races away to score a try during the mens pool match between New Zealand and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.

The All Blacks Sevens will enjoy a month of rest, recovery and recharging after the hottest conditions of the season in Sydney sapped their energy.

The temperatures soared on day two and New Zealand's meritorious Cup quarter-final win over Fiji cleared took it out of the players, who were flatter in the semifinal loss to England befire rebounding with their second win in two days over the hosts to clinch third place, equalling their best display of the 2016-17 World Series.

"It was ridiculously hot after quite a cool week in Wellington. It's not really an excuse but some of the guys struggled a bit," says coach Scott Waldrom. "That Fiji game was finals quality and it took a lot out of the guys going 1m30s over time. We need to be able to handle that and get up for the next game. We let ourselves down against England, but good to see we stepped up in that last game."

Progress is clear, if gradual.

"We certainly made some progress after being disappointed with Wellington. We gave an opportunity to all the squad to have a run in the last two weeks. The younger guys picked up some valuable experience."

Their finishes have yielded eighth, third, sixth and third, which has them fourth on the overall standings.

Waldrom was full of praise for the likes of DJ Forbes and Regan Ware, who ran in four tries, but he was also impressed with the likes of rookie Andrew Knewstubb. He believes he could be "the next Tim Mikkelson", which is a fair rap.

The 18-year-old Vilimoni Koroi was a mixture. He has a deep bag of tricks, but is prone to errors. However, he is just 18, and will get better. Some of that inexperience and perhaps lack of match fitness were proffered as reasons for the inconsistency that New Zealand have shown in the last two events.

"Some of these guys aren't used to that high intensity football. We probably just need to train up tempo to help the guys with that and perform key skills under pressure," Waldrom says.

Some of the 20 contracted players are still injured or on Super Rugby pre-season duty, but it would surprise if there were wholesale changes for the Las Vegas and Vancouver tournaments next month, where the humidity will not be as pronounced.

"I'm looking forward to Vegas. We've got a good pool and I'm expecting us to take another step forward."

The squad will reassemble in full camp two weeks out from the March 3-5 Las Vegas event.

New Zealand will be in Pool C along with Argentina, Russia and Kenya.

*The Black Ferns Sevens, who have work to do after an indifferent Sydney tournament, are grouped with Australia, England and Brazil in their Las Vegas pool.

World Series (men) standings: South Africa 85, England 68, Fiji 64, New Zealand 56, Scotland 45, Australia 40, Wales 40, USA 35, Argentina 35, France 35

- NZ Herald

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