Almighty bat­tle of World Sevens Se­ries

‘We are go­ing out to win Cape Town Sevens’

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - WYNONA LOUW [email protected]

NEW ZEALAND SEVENS skip­per An­drew Knew­stubb is hop­ing the Cape Town crowd will get be­hind them this week­end. And given the at­ten­tion New Zealand sides tend to get in the Mother City, he just might get his wish.

New Zealand – the de­fend­ing Cape Town Sevens cham­pi­ons – will bat­tle it out against the Bl­itzboks, Samoa and Zim­babwe on day one of the two-day event af­ter be­ing crowned Dubai cham­pi­ons for the first since 2009 this past week­end.

And while the Dubai Player of the Fi­nal ad­mit­ted that the sup­port they re­ceived dur­ing the sec­ond stop on the World Sevens Se­ries cer­tainly helped them, he wouldn’t ad­mit that his team are go­ing out to de­fend their Cape Town ti­tle and make it back-to­back tour­na­ment wins.

“Af­ter our ex­pe­ri­ence here last year we know that the crowd will be big and be loud. It will be a tough tour­na­ment, and I think all the teams will agree that last week was a tough start af­ter a tough pre-sea­son for all of us,” Knew­stubb said.

“We love it, it is awe­some to get sup­port like that, par­tic­u­larly away from home, and like last year I hope they get in be­hind us.

“It is a tough pool, but most of the pools are tough be­cause the com­pe­ti­tion is get­ting closer and the rugby is get­ting bet­ter ev­ery year.

“We know we are go­ing to have to be at our best and hope­fully will be able to top our pool so we can carry mo­men­tum over into the sec­ond day.”

The New Zealand Sevens beat the Bl­itzboks in the semi-fi­nal be­fore out­play­ing Ar­gentina in the fi­nal to claim their only tour­na­ment in the 2017-18 se­ries.

“We are not go­ing out to de­fend the ti­tle, that is not how we see it. We are go­ing out to win it, just like the other teams are. Scott (Curry) is a big loss to us, not only as a cap­tain, but also as a player. But we have re­in­force­ments on their way out from New Zealand who will bring some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Knew­stubb said.

Knew­stubb, who is stand­ing in for in­jured reg­u­lar skip­per Curry, also ex­plained the role cen­tral­i­sa­tion has played in New Zealand Sevens’ re­vival af­ter a few tough years.

Last sea­son Clark Laid­law’s team won the Com­mon­wealth Games as well as the Sevens World Cup – tri­umphs that were es­pe­cially sweet given their dis­ap­point­ing fifth-place fin­ish at the Rio Olympics back in 2016 and a num­ber of un­pleas­ant re­sults in be­tween the big tour­na­ments.

“We are all liv­ing to­gether now sub­se­quent to the de­ci­sion to base our­selves in Tau­ranga, that is def­i­nitely a big part of it,” said Knew­stubb.

“We now con­nect off the field and that has helped us con­nect on the field. That is a big part of it. There is change hap­pen­ing, and it is good change. But we know we al­ways have to keep chang­ing. We are not quite there at the mo­ment, but we are get­ting there.”

AN­DREW KNEW­STUBB says cen­tral­i­sa­tion has played a role in New Zealand Sevens’ re­vival af­ter a few tough years. | Back­pagePix

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