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September 27, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

The Delhi Sevens

The New Zealand Rugby Sevens team will attempt to win their fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal in Delhi next month. Coach Gordon “Titch” Tietjens has led a side to victory at all three previous Games in which Sevens has been included. Titch has named another tremendously powerful squad to contest this time around and has every right to be confident going in.

As at the last Commonwealth Games, Titch has bolstered his side with fringe All Blacks. A quartet of unwanted recent All Blacks was recently included in the squad—Zach Guildford, Adam Thompson, Ben Smith and Hosea Gear. Unfortunately Otago flanker Thompson—one of many Kiwi rugby stars to come to fruition under Titch’s wing—has since been ruled out, after sustaining a knee injury which will keep him out of rugby for eight to ten weeks. Fortuitously for the Kiwis, another of Titch’s proteges, Waikato flanker Liam Messam, is believed to fancy Thompson’s place in the squad. Failing that, Wellington wing Julian Savea is on standby.

The All Blacks’ losses are Titch’s gain, with unlucky flyers Guildford, Smith and Gear ready to set the field alight in Delhi. Gear in particular has continued where he left off at the end of the Super 14 with his scintillating form surely making an All Blacks recall a matter of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’. Guildford was in the All Blacks for the June tests, and will likely see the Games as an opportunity to push his own claim for a recall. Hawkes Bay speedster Guildford is particularly raring to go, despite being asked to stay home by his worried mother.

Tietjens is excited about his side’s prospects, despite a relatively disappointing World Series. He believes the combination of established national sevens players, along with the x-factor brought by the likes of Smith and Guildford, will give the side every chance of continuing its unbeaten Commonwealth Games record.

If the Kiwis do manage to regain their winning ways, it will bode well for next year’s World Series, and ultimately 2016, when Sevens makes its summer Olympic debut. I really hope Titch sticks around long enough to guide us to Olympic glory. It sure would put a cherry on top of a truly incredible coaching career.


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