Hong Kong Sevens

Cautious Rush in no hurry to predict

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 1995, 12:00am

ERIC Rush is in no hurry to predict a New Zealand victory in Sunday's Cup final at the Hong Kong Sevens.

'Being defending champions and one of the favourites doesn't mean a thing. It all depends the way the ball bounces on the day,' was Rush's summation.

The 30-year-old Rush, widely regarded as one of the best sevens forwards to have played in Hong Kong, knows it is unwise to make brash predictions.

This weekend's appearance is his eighth tournament on the trot. In that time, New Zealand have entered all the Cup finals, and only won twice. The ball has certainly not bounced his way all that much.

'The best team on the day will win. You have 14 minutes and it is over in an instant,' emphasises Rush again.

'Today for instance, we struggled against Portugal at training. That's the thing with sevens . . . anything can happen. You can't say that we are favourites to win.' Rush, who led New Zealand to a 32-20 victory over Australia in last year's Cup final, is presently lacking solid match practice as he is coming off a two-week suspension slapped on him last year by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

Rush was sent off in a provincial game at the end of last season and had to serve his sentence at the start of this season. This saw him miss out on the national sevens championships in Palmerston North and also on the Suva International Sevens.

'I may be slow to get to the ball,' laughed Rush, when asked if the suspension had affected him.

Jokes apart, Rush concedes that this New Zealand side will find it hard going. 'We will miss Glen Osborne and Luke Erenavalu badly. They were both key players and you just can't replace them with 19-year-old guys.' New Zealand have four teenagers in the side. But one of them, 19-year-old Jonah Lomu is not a worry to Rush. It is the others - Andrew Blowers, Bradley Fleming and Christian Cullen.

'They are a bit scared, apprehensive perhaps. They really don't know what to expect.'