New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens and Eric Rush go back a long way. But when it comes to winning, especially the Hong Kong Sevens, Tietjens will put friendship aside and will make sacrifices - even going to the length of not having Rush in his starting lineup. 'There is the possibility that I won't start him in some games. I could take that decision. It has happened this season in previous tournaments and it could happen again here,' Tietjens said yesterday after the Kiwis brushed aside Sri Lanka 51-0. New Zealand began their assault for a hat-trick of titles with Rush firmly in the saddle. The 37-year-old Rush led the defending champions out against Sri Lanka but did not last the whole game being replaced in the third minute of the second half. 'There was nothing sinister in that. We were using a rotation system where we gave every player on the bench the chance,' Rush said. Rush, who missed out last year due to a leg injury, began uncharacteristically when he knocked on with his first touch of the ball. Then just before he was substituted, the evergreen entirely missed a pass, something that would not have happened in past years. With Sri Lanka being the appetisers before the main course is served today, the Kiwis could absorb such lapses. But the sight of Rush being taken off is something that has rarely been seen in Hong Kong. 'No I was not nursing him. But you have got to appreciate that he is 37,' Tietjens said. Perhaps the end is really in sight for Rush. Another sign that this could be his last Hong Kong Sevens came afterwards when the all-time great was seen carrying a framed picture. 'It is a gift to the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union. It is my signed jersey,' Rush smiled. Is this a parting gift from the player to a tournament he has graced illustriously for the past 15 years? Time will tell. Yesterday the Kiwis showed they were in no mood to take prisoners. Sri Lanka played gamely but failed to stop the black wave that engulfed them. 'I thought Sri Lanka went alright, which they usually don't do. We wanted to put a big score over them but we didn't quite achieve that,' Rush said. 'Our goal here is to win every match. We don't care how it happens, we just want to win.' And win was what all the seeded teams did yesterday. England produced a polished display at the end of the night as they thumped Japan 47-0. Richard Haughton started the seven-try rout as he skipped past three Japanese defenders to set the tone of the match. But bigger hurdles lie ahead today, especially in the form of Argentina. South African coach Chester Williams was unhappy after his team's opening match against Taiwan. The Taiwanese managed to sneak in two tries before going down 44-12. 'Not pleased,' Williams said. 'We made a few mistakes in defence and this could cost us when we play the bigger teams. But at the same time, we played better than we did last week in Beijing.' Williams then went in hunt of a video of the match. The South Africans would have spent last night watching re-runs of their mistakes. Australia and Samoa, the other two leading contenders, had their moments. Australia beat Morocco 31-5 while Samoa defeated Hong Kong 35-5. Dark horses Argentina beat Thailand 49-7. Everything went to plan. South Korea came close to pulling off an upset, but a last-gasp try from Laurent Diaz allowed France to escape with a 21-19 win. Tietjens summed the first day's play succinctly. 'We were not challenged in any way.' But it will get harder today.