Singapore: New Zealand will be looking to turn Commonwealth Games gold into HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens glory when World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series action returns to the iconic Singapore National Stadium from April 28-29.
A 14-0 Commonwealth Games victory over arch-rivals Fiji secured the All Blacks Sevens the gold medal – the nation’s fifth gold since rugby sevens was introduced into the event in 1998.
The New Zealanders had decided to focus on the Gold Coast event with their senior squad, instead sending a development squad to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ last leg in Hong Kong.
But New Zealand will be back at full-strength and raring to shift their World Series campaign into overdrive in Singapore.
At present the Kiwis sit in third place in the standings on 107 points, behind World Series leaders South Africa (126) and second-placed Fiji (123) – and they must put the results on the board if they are a chance to add to their record 12 World Series titles.
“There’s been a lot of criticism around the team the past few years but that just goes to show what the team is really capable of,” said former skipper and HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens ambassador DJ Forbes.
Forbes is no stranger to Commonwealth Games success having won gold and silver in the quadrennial games during an illustrious sevens career for New Zealand.
“Now the World Series is the platform to put some things together with the Rugby World Cup Sevens coming up also [in July]. I was stoked to see them get the job done. There’s not many teams that can hold Fiji to nil.”
It was a late call-up to the Games squad in Etene Nanai-Seturo who set the Kiwis on their path to gold, with Regan Ware scoring the other try in the final.
Both will hoping to figure in Singapore but New Zealand also showed their strength in depth in making it to the Cup semi-finals with a less experienced squad in Hong Kong so there is plenty of competition for places in the touring side.
New Zealand have drawn Pool D with Scotland, Australia and Wales in Singapore.
“It’s been good to see some of those young boys turning the page,” said Forbes.
“We’ve had a few injuries and then decisions to make on who to rest for the Commonwealth Games so credit to management for giving everyone a run. It goes without saying that whoever gets the nod to do the job in Singapore is capable of doing it.”
Forbes said he was excited to return to Singapore at the end of the month and was looking forward to the action ahead.
“Singapore has got a real good balance of family atmosphere and the sport on show,” said Forbes.
“It’s great if you can get the kids down and maybe they can see something that inspires them to play.”
Fiji sent the same squad to the Commonwealth Games that had run out 24-12 victors over Kenya in the Cup final in Hong Kong and they will now be focused on brushing aside the disappointment of that loss in the gold medal game – and building on a run of form that has seen them win the past two legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and three of its past four.
The Fijians have drawn Pool A in Singapore alongside Spain, Russia and Japan.
Bronze in the Commonwealth Games went to England with a 21-14 win over South Africa.
The English have drawn Pool B in Singapore alongside Kenya, the United States and France, while the series-leading South Africans feature in a Pool C that includes Argentina, last year’s surprise Singapore champions Canada and Samoa.
Tickets are available at www.singapore7s.sg.