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NZ sevens hopefuls get up to speed

By Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA 29/09/2010 06:20:55 AM Comments (0)

They've never lost a match at the Commonwealth Games, they're boosted by some serious All Blacks firepower and arch rivals Fiji are nowhere to be seen.

They are unbackable favourites, yet the New Zealand sevens rugby team are taking nothing for granted as they chase a fourth successive gold medal at New Delhi.

The kings of the abbreviated game for more than a decade, sevens coaching guru Gordon Tietjens will hope a short buildup has his New Zealand players fit enough for the demands of playing in oppressive heat.

Tietjens has named four fringe All Blacks in his 12-man squad - wingers Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford and Ben Smith, along with flanker Liam Messam, who comes in as a late replacement for the injured Adam Thomson.

"The game is made for guys like Hosea, Zac and Ben but the first thing 15s players assume is that there's a lot more space. It's not as easy as that," skipper DJ Forbes said.

"There's a lot of work to be done and a lot of skill sets that evolve through playing a lot of sevens.

"The key is going to be for the sevens specialists to nurture the boys who haven't had a lot of sevens (Guildford and Smith).

"We've got a good mix. Tietj will have a job picking his starting seven and that's good for us."

Fiji's exclusion from the Games on political grounds leaves Samoa as the obvious team to beat although England and South Africa pose threats as well.

New Zealand team: DJ Forbes (captain), Toby Arnold, Kurt Baker, Tomasi Cama, Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Liam Messam, Tim Mikkelson, Lote Raikabula, Ben Smith, Ben Souness, Sherwin Stowers

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