Fiji 7s Rugby: New Zealand Target Fijians

New Zealand last won in 2014 and have seen arch-rivals Fiji dominate in the past four years.
04 Apr 2019 15:47
Fiji 7s Rugby: New Zealand Target Fijians
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team during training at the Tin Sau Rugby Pitch in Hong Kong on March 31, 2019. Photo: Tin Shui Wai RFC

The New Zealand 7s team target the Hong Kong tournament above all others, according to assistant coach Liam Barry, and turn to unexpected tactics to deal with the pressure that goes with that.

“We create pressure away from what they’re used to,” he said, speaking at a rugby coaching event hosted by Tudor.

“We put them in front of the group and just say ‘you’re singing now’. You sing, and your heart rate goes up. It doesn’t always have to be rug- by-related.”

He sees the high-stakes of Hong Kong as vital to any success.

“We want that, we want that pressure on the players.

“We want some edge. We want them to feel that pressure because it’s our (New Zealand’s) game. And anytime we haven’t won it in a while, it creates more of an edge.”

New Zealand last won in 2014 and have seen archrivals Fiji dominate in the past four years.

New Zealand decide each year to target Hong Kong because it was the catalyst for creating their team. “Hong Kong is always the original. We know we have a history of All

Blacks sevens, which goes back 30- odd years and was created to come to Hong Kong,” he said.

“We call them pinnacle events.

“All the others are great, we love them, but this is the pinnacle,” Barry said, adding that the Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games warrant the same emphasis.

However, they do not measure success based purely on outcome, but on performance.

“It can be just because the other team is better or a couple of critical situations haven’t gone our way, but we were at the top of our game. That’s life, that’s sport,” he said.

If they do not win, or perform well, there is an emotional dip after the tournament but Barry said they make sure they get back on the horse quickly by focusing on what they did well and moving on to the next tournament’s preparation.

Last year, New Zealand rested their strongest players, preferring to focus on the Commonwealth Games a week later in Australia.

They felt they could not win gold if they played back-to-back. Barry admits it would have been hard to justify that decision had they not won in the Gold Coast.

But now, they are fully focused on breaking Fiji’s streak.

“We’re excited,” Barry added.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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