"I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time. It can't get more worse."

The Beatles song lyric for Getting Better could well be a theme tune for the All Blacks Sevens squad as they begin the 2017-2018 HSBC Sevens Series in Dubai (December 1-2) and Cape Town (December 9-10).

Last year the team stuttered along in underwhelming fashion. Hampered by a string of injuries to key players and new head coach Clark Laidlaw having to fulfil obligations with Scotland, New Zealand finished fourth and did not make a single final in 10 tournaments.

McCartney and Lennon were right. It is getting better.


Since Laidlaw has been involved fulltime and the squad has relocated to The University of Waikato Adams Centre For High Performance at Blake Park, there is a renewed feeling of optimism throughout the wider squad and management staff.

Laidlaw said he and the group were "massively excited" about the opportunity to show what they were capable of.

"We are really happy how we have prepared and the guys are fitting in and really buying in to what we are trying to do off the field as well as on the field."

Winning more games was the simple solution to turning around last year's poor performance record, Laidlaw said.

"The first thing we need to do is understand how we prepare, how we get our tactical and attacking game prepared so we can have real clarity when we play six games over a weekend. We have worked a lot on how we want to play and the skills components that fit within that.

"We are under no illusions in how tough that is going to be. We haven't won a tournament since Vancouver 2016, we didn't win the last Commonwealth Games, we didn't medal at the Olympics, so we are a little bit behind and we have some catching up to do."

Getting off to a winning start in Dubai is Laidlaw's first challenge.

"Traditionally we don't start well. Dubai has always been a tough tournament and usually we go a lot better the week after. We have players who can do stuff I can't coach. I am not going to tell Joe Webber or Joe Ravouvou how to sidestep but I can help them getting off the ground and getting into position quickly.

"That is an area we have really focused on. The effort and urgency to play well has been the focus really."

Laidlaw has named Bay of Plenty's Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson as co-captains to share the burden in case one is unable to play.

"It is good Timmy has been named as co-captain this year. We spend a lot of time together talking about things we want to do and how we want to lead our team going forward," Curry said.

"There are no key specific things just yet. We are focusing a lot on how we get the best out of the players and ourselves come game time and leading into a tournament."