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Tietjens eyes Dubai for start of Sevens Series redemption

New Zealand coach will treat every game as a final match

New Zealand’s captain D.J. Forbes holds the trophy
Image Credit: Gulf News Archive/Francois Nel
New Zealand’s captain D.J. Forbes holds the trophy aloft as his teammates celebrate after winning the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s final against Samoa on December 5. New Zealand beat Samoa 24-12 in Dubai, but finally lost to the Pacific Islanders in the overall championships.
Gulf News

Dubai: After losing to HSBC World Sevens Series to Samoa last year, Kiwi coach Gordon Tietjens' only thoughts nowadays are of New Zealand getting the title back when they take to the field at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens from December 2 to 4.

"We were disappointed to finish runners-up last year to a very good Samoan team so now we've got to push on with our goals and objectives this year to win the World Series," said Tietjens.

"To do well in the World Series you have to start well. We've seen the emergence of a lot of countries over the years in Sevens rugby and it's going to be no different this season," added the legendary coach who has groomed Christian Cullens, Jonah Lomu and Joe Rokocoko through sevens and into 15s.

"There are up to six or seven teams that could win any of the tournaments so we're going to have to start well and Dubai's certainly first and foremost in our minds," he said.

No easy draw

New Zealand have been drawn in Pool B alongside Argentina, USA and Zimbabwe, with their first scheduled match against the US on Friday, December 3.

"It's never an easy draw," Tietjens said. "I mean Argentina could bring a very, very good side — you just would never have any idea. The USA are always really competitive so if they bring their top side, they're in with a chance. Then again you just don't know, so that first tournament you're sort of going into the unknown a little bit, and you're always cautious. We'll have to play every game as a final."

Tietjens said the team was excited about the World Series and the challenge of trying to win back the overall series title.

"I will have a new squad with maybe less than half of the squad that was at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi available," he said.

"The likes of Zac Guildford, Liam Messam, Sherwin Stowers and Fritz Lee will all be with Super 15 squads. But I hope to retain players like DJ Forbes, Kurt Baker, Tim Mickelson, Lote Raikabula for the World Series.

"Although I will have a new team in Dubai, I am taking an emerging players squad to a tournament in Brisbane in a couple of weeks and some players from that may force themselves into the sevens squad for Dubai. It will be good preparation."

Tickets to be in on the action at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens are still available online through and by calling Ticketline on 800-4669.