Winning not everything as Kiwis aim to raise game at Rugby World Cup Sevens

All Blacks Sevens team must defend a lot better if they are to improve on a modest record at the World Cup, warns skipper Forbes after day one

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 4:05am

New Zealand aim to raise the barricades in Moscow with skipper DJ Forbes complaining that they have to work on their defence if they are to make up for a modest record at the World Cup Sevens.

The All Blacks began their campaign with a 31-12 victory over Canada yesterday, leaking two tries, which by their high standards is a no-no. Forbes said the team would have to improve in defence at the Luzhniki Stadium this weekend if they are to repeat their 2001 win.

New Zealand entered the 24-team men's tournament as clear favourites having clinched this season's HSBC Sevens World Series. But despite winning 11 of the 14 World Series titles, they have won only one of the five previous World Cups.

In XVs, the Kiwis suffered a similar drought, until they won in 2011 to add a second title to the inaugural crown in 1987. Forbes agrees that the world's best sevens team need another World Cup badly.

"Yes, we are like the All Blacks. We have dominated the world of rugby over the past few years, winning the World Series more often than not. But all that doesn't matter this weekend. What matters are the next few games, the next couple of days if we are to lay our hands on the World Cup," Forbes said.

"It has been some time now since we lifted it, but the opportunity is there in front of us this weekend. And we have the team to do it. From the 12, any seven can start and do the job."

Forbes is returning after a foot injury picked up at the Tokyo Sevens. He missed both the Scotland Sevens and the London Sevens - "although it was nice for the boys to bring back a World Series medal" - as he went through recovery in a bid to make Moscow.

Forbes, Lote Raikabula and Tomasi Cama are the only players in the squad with previous World Cup experience but most of the squad have played a role in World Series success this season, a title earned by their unrelenting consistency over the year. Coach Gordon Tietjens has only called on one Super 15 player, Waisake Naholo.

"The pressure of World Cup footie showed in our poor defence today. Yet it is nice to start with a win," Forbes said.