The curious nature of the All Blacks Sevens side can be captured by one relationship: 18-year-old Rieko Ioane has spent the last week sharing sevens tips with Sonny Bill Williams, a man who has celebrated almost as many career triumphs as the youngster has birthdays.

The opening day of the Wellington leg of the World Rugby's Sevens World Series saw the hosts' talent-laden squad split into three camps.

The regulars, like captain Tim Mikkelson, provided the glue, the Super Rugby ring-ins, like Williams, added the spark, and those who sat somewhere in between, like Ioane, helped bridge the divide.

It barely matters that he's 18 and has appeared only six times for Auckland - Ioane knows a thing or two about these small-sided games and that, for now, is more than an illustrious team-mate.


"I've helped Sonny out a bit - just getting to know his position when he comes out into the backs," Ioane said.

"But I'm still learning myself so I still have to ask a lot of the older players for advice."

The first step in New Zealand's pursuit of sevens gold in Rio was notable for how Sir Gordon Tietjens leant on those older players and injected the new boys for short but devastating stints.

While Mikkelson, Kurt Baker and Joe Webber were ever-present, Williams, Ardie Savea and Akira Ioane were utilised as over-qualified impact players, complementing their team-mates' hard graft with all of the expected glitz.

Part of that was about fitness - Williams was spotted sucking in a few big breaths after starting his side's second match - while part was about providing more weapons than opponents could handle.

"[Williams] came in with a bit more muscle than everyone but he'd been working really hard and his fitness has picked up hugely," Ioane said.

"The new boys are gelling quite nicely and they're all playing their part in the games.

"They might not be starting but they're coming off the bench and having a huge impact. Sonny Bill and his offloads, Ardie and his work rate - it's all going good."

Ioane was relatively satisfied with his own form, scoring a a late try against Russia and another against Scotland.

And the teenager joked he had been desperate to find his way onto the scoresheet after watching older bother Akira do so twice in the first seven minutes against Russia.

"I have to say I was a bit jealous that he was getting a few down," he said with a laugh.