Scott Curry remembers the New Zealand leg of the sevens in its pomp. Before he established his presence on the world circuit and progressed to captain, Curry was a fan; one of the thousands decked out in various outfits in the stands.

Back then it was the hottest ticket in town. You could barely move along the Wellington waterfront. One weekend a year, Westpac Stadium was the place to be.

The Wellington event, of course, died a slow death. A combination of fan fatigue and overzealous policing of party goers – going as far as breath testing – turned punters away and ultimately forced a shift to Hamilton to revive interest.

Had Hamilton not stepped up, New Zealand's hosting rights may have been lost.


This weekend's inaugural two-day event is once again sold out, with 24,000 expected to flock to Waikato Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. Organisers are promising to treat people as adults, and long may that last.

Whether or not Hamilton sustains the surge in appeal that comes with a new event remains to be seen. But for now the buzz is back around the sevens, and that's flowed through to the New Zealand team.

"It's massively exciting for us as a team to come to a home tournament that's sold out," Curry said.

"I've been to the Wellington tournament in its heyday in the crowd and it was always an awesome atmosphere and supporting the New Zealand team was always a highlight so to be on the other side of the fence playing the game will be a real buzz."

Natrually expectations of success at home will be high. New Zealand won nine of 18 tournaments in Wellington, featuring in two further finals.

"I don't know if there's any added expectation we always demand high standards of ourselves and each other to win every tournament we go to. It's no different here in Hamilton… there's just a bit more added excitement. To be able to have the family and friends in the crowd brings a little bit extra as well so the boys are really looking forward to it."

Much like the event itself, the New Zealand team has undergone major changes under new Scottish coach Clark Laidlaw, building around getting into game early with contact and developing continuity before chasing flair and offloads.

Last week the team disappointed with a fifth place finish after being knocked out in the quarterfinals by hosts Australia but sit second overall after defeat in the final in Dubai and victory in Cape Town, their first tournament win in 15 attempts.


With the Commonwealth Games and World Cup to come this year, performances this weekend will go a long way to deciding who makes the cut for those pinnacle events.

"It feels like a completely different team; a lot more professional. We probably work a lot harder off the field in terms of our game and opposition and on the field the boys are getting their best fitness tests scores after coming back from the Christmas break. Things like that are really encouraging for what's to come this year.

"We didn't expect to get results like that so fast, and we understand it's not always going to be like that. We need to understand we need to be there every single game or teams will punish you. There are no real minnow teams anymore and you can't take anyone lightly."

NZ squad:

Scott Curry (co-captain), Tim Mikkelson (co-captain), Teddy Stanaway, Joe Ravouvou, Luke Masirewa, Vilimoni Koroi, Sam Dickson, Caleb Clarke, Regan Ware, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Joe Webber Sione Molia

Saturday 3 February

1.20pm v France
4.46pm v Scotland
8.34pm v Argentina

Sunday 4 February
Finals day