On NZ’s chances in Rio:
Sevens is growing globally in a big way, 2016 in Rio and then 2020 in Tokyo, it’s a great spectator sport, real professional athletes, for me it’s a dream to go to the Olympics. I’ve been to 5 Commonwealth Games and now to the Olympics, its the pinnacle of my career and I really looking forward to it.
I’m going over to Rio after London 7s to have a look at the facilities, the conditions that we are going to be playing in. It will be really important for us to go and check it out. You got to go over there, you got to adapt, you got to adapt to living in the Games Village and being amongst the other sporting teams from around the world, and being with the best athletes in the world afterall its the peak event in world sport.
Is there pressure to win gold?
There’s always pressure for the All Blacks, whether its 7s or 15s, just wearing the jersey is a lot of pressure, certainly coaching them as well. But 7s is a unique game. I would say the Fijian team probably has more depth than any other country in the world. In terms of 7s players, they have loads of expertise, and they are a very tough team to beat, very tough to crack and hence they are leading the world series as we stand right now. We saw in Hong Kong how good Fiji is. Canada on their day can beat any team, and we have seen the emergence and improvement of the USA team over the last 13 months. They have got some great athletes.
Any new faces this weekend?
I’ve got a youngster in Isaac Te Aute that’s joining the team from school, he just left school recently and he’s got an eye for the game of 7s. He’s got a nice step, I supposed you can be any type of rugby player, you can be a great rugby player but not necessary you will excel in the game of 7s, This is a boy who excels in 7s and its good to give him an opportunity to play here in the tournament this weekend
On making Liam Meesam captain
Liam Meesam has won 2 Commonwealth Games gold medal as a 7s player, he puts his hand up many many months ago to have a crack at making the team for the Olympics, so Liam has 3-4 tournaments to prove himself that he’s good enough. Losing captains like DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson, and Scott Curry is back in New Zealand, that’s 3 skippers who are not with me, so it was a no brainer on making Liam the skipper. He is a great All Black like Sonny Bill Williams, also a very good All Black and both of them are having a crack at trying to make it to Rio
On why All Blacks took it easy in the first 2 days in Singapore
In Hong Kong, we were really challenged, we were down to 10men after Day One and having to share the workload among 10 men. The game against South Africa went into extra time and we were under a lot of pressure. Hence the light training week, as our guys have been really under the pump. There’s a lot of pressure for me to share the workload. And every player has got to step up.
I am a real believer that any 7s player has to have the X factor to a certain degree and he has to get out and display that. To be part of this team is always about playing for each other, caring for each other. Rugby 7s players are probably the hardest working team players in the world as it’s brutal in contact, the repeated speed, you got to go 70metres out and you are scoring one minute and suddenly you are 90 metres back. Its challenging mentally and physically but probably one of the greatest games to watch when its played really well.
Sonny Bill Williams
About HK and playing in 7s
It was an amazing challenging experience against the Fijians, we got them in Sydney but last week they got us. They play different from other team on the circuit. Obviously its their national sport. They have grown up their whole lives playing 7s, and they just seem to be there when the ball bounce, they just have a knack of turning up at the right spots. Its very challenging yet very exciting at the same time to come up against some of the very best players in 7s.
I’m loving the challenge (of 7s rugby), really enjoying it and really happy with how I’ve been playing and where I’m at at this stage. Obviously the end goal is to try and make the 7s Olympics squad. Right now I just got to keep ticking those boxes. HK was pretty tough, especially as it was a 3 day tournament. But that’s one of the exciting things about playing 7s, sometimes its just the mental challenge, not just physical one. That’s what I enjoy about the game.
Giving away medal in HK, does it mean that medals don’t mean much to you
This thing has been blown out of proportion, most of the boys gave their cups away from the HK tournament, so I don’t see it as a big deal
How have u been recovering?
It’s tough…in my religion, we say Subahanallah (Glory be to God), its amazing how the body adapts to different situations, just with the load of 7s, playing again the next week, my body is just adapting, that’s what I guess is happening with all the 7s boys, its tough work. To recover I’ve been taking ice baths, massages, stretching.
Any expectations on your shoulders to deliver Rio gold
For myself, its about fitting in with the team, the team comes first, there’s a lot that goes on outside of this group here, I don’t worry about whats going out there, I just worry about to have my teammates respect and my coaches think I am on the right track. I believe if I keep working hard, God willing, stay healthy, injury free, I will be able to get there
Humidity in Spore
It was pretty hot out there today, its like playing in the sauna. But the good thing is everyone has to play in the same heat. The Pacific Island teams will probably have an advantage cos over there in the islands, they are playing every day, we’ll just have to wait and see