Lack of practice concerns Kiwis
New Zealand's chances of winning a third consecutive Cathay Pacific HongkongBank Sevens title will be undermined by their lack of preparation, according to coach Gordon Tietjens.
Tietjens will not be short of experience or talent as he has eight of last year's championship-winning side in this year's squad, with the addition of 1994 best player Glen Osborne.
However, he is concerned about the fact that the players, who include captain Eric Rush, juggernaut winger Jonah Lomu and Dallas Seymour, will not have played much sevens in the run up to the March 29-31 event at the Hong Kong Stadium.
New Zealand's commitment to the Southern Hemisphere's Super 12 tournament means that players like Rush have not been available for other major sevens events such as last week's Fiji Sevens, where New Zealand went down 22-21 to the hosts in the final.
'I'm pretty reserved about our chances this year because many of the players were committed to the professional [Super 12] league and were not able to play sevens,' said Tietjens.
'We will have to be cautious. Some of the players will not be available until the week before the tournament and good preparation is vital for a tournament like the Hong Kong Sevens.
'It will be interesting. We took part in Fiji with a young team which was basically a shadow New Zealand side. 'We got to the final and only narrowly lost to the Fijian team that will be playing in Hong Kong.' New Zealand play France, Japan and Sri Lanka in Pool A of the preliminary rounds.
Meanwhile, this weekend's Country of Origin tournament at Happy Valley will feature some of the players taking part in the Carlsberg Hong Kong Football Club 10s. New Zealand squad Eric Rush (captain), Jonah Lomu, Dallas Seymour, Waisake Masirewa, Joe Tauiwi, Peter Woods, Christian Cullen, Glen Osborne, Joeli Vidiri, Bradley Fleming.