Sevens looking to return to consistent ways in Hamilton

Fri, Jan 20, 2023, 4:21 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Men's Sevens side are eager to put back-to-back disappointments behind them. Photo: Getty Images
The Men's Sevens side are eager to put back-to-back disappointments behind them. Photo: Getty Images

The Men's Sevens side is desperate to get their World Series back on track as they head to Hamilton with a point to prove.

After an opening-round victory in Hong Kong, the defending champions struggled in the final two legs of 2022 as the past 12 months took its toll on John Manenti's side.

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This saw them finish outside the top eight in Cape Town for the first time since 2019 after a defeat to Great Britain and a draw to the USA.

“To our standards, we didn’t perform in Cape Town or Dubai but going forward we see 2023 as a fresh start for us so we’re keen to put our best foot forward," Dietrich Roache told Rugby.com.au

“Coming off last year, the team is very confident and we know we can match it with the best. We’ve put the work in and we’re looking to improve in a number of places.

“Johnny (Manenti) has a big thing on consistency and it's a big reason we had success last year. It’s something we want to bring into this year and take it to another step where we are always competing for medals.

“It’s a non-negotiable that we make it past the group stages this week.”

“It was really disappointing, for a lot of us it was the first time we’ve missed the (knock-out) cut so it was a massive learning curve for us,” Henry Paterson added.

“You just try and take as many positives out of it as you can. We got Trae (Williams) and Dally (Bird) into the mix, who got some great game time and they’ll be firing for these most recent events.”

Manenti's side has dealt with a growing injury toll, with skipper Nick Malouf, Matt Gonzalez and Darby Lancaster still on the sidelines.

This is offset by the returns of Hong Kong heroes Maurice Longbottom and James Turner, whilst Simon Kennewell makes his return to the program for the first time in over three years.

With next week's Sydney Sevens on the horizon, the stakes are even higher to finish in the top four to ensure the best possible pool.

Their tenth-place finish at the previous event left them floating when the draw was created for Hamilton, forced to deal with Great Britain first up before taking on hosts New Zealand.

“We’re very keen for the Sydney Sevens but our 100% focus remains on Hamilton,” Roache added.

“NZ are in our pool which is going to be a tough one. We see it as a massive challenge for us but more of an opportunity to take it to them and make it hard for them.”

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