The return of three New Zealand players has boosted Bay of Plenty's chances of winning their first Bayleys National Sevens men's title in Rotorua this weekend.
Bay of Plenty coach Paul Tietjens has welcomed back Teddy Stanaway, Bailey Simonsson and Luke Masirewa into the fold.
"I am really stoked how the New Zealand boys have come in and re-gelled in the team and provided a lot leadership. It develops a lot of confidence in the other players coming through which is really pleasing," Tietjens said.
He is happy with the team's preparation following on from last weekend's Provincial Union Sevens and a hit-out against Samoa on Wednesday night.
"The first thing I am really pleased with is the fact that we are an extremely fit side. They have been working under my strength and conditioning trainer for about four months now and I think this is the fittest Bay of Plenty side I have coached over the last couple of years.
"So that is really pleasing and I am extremely confident about. Any player that I put out there can last me a full game. Things are coming together nicely and definitely some good combinations ready for the weekend and that first game against Mid-Canterbury."
Not only matching teams of the standard of defending champions Counties Manukau but beating them is Tietjens' goal.
"One of the two things for us we took out of the [Provincial Sevens] were our kick-offs and retaining possession of kick-offs and kick receipts. We know we need to make sure we are accurate with that and we are consistent with winning ball. To be a good sevens team you have got to hold on to the ball for long periods.
"Secondly, just as important as our attack is our defence. A couple of times we got exposed on the weekend with just guys out of position and I have brought in some experience to help combat that. We really want to get our defence right and put some teams under pressure."
Bay of Plenty have Mid-Canterbury, Auckland and Canterbury in their pool to get through on day one of the nationals tomorrow.
Tietjens is well aware of what his team will be up against.
"We need to be switched on from the opening whistle of the first game with Mid-Canterbury on day one. They were good enough to beat Canterbury in the Southern Regional tournament about a month or so ago. They will be a real challenge for us and we are not looking any further than that.
"Obviously Canterbury and Auckland are in our pool following that game which will be two real toughies but to win this tournament you have to win six finals.
"We are definitely looking forward to it. We have been training since September for this and we have all been waiting I guess to see how we go on the big stage in front of our families and friends."