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Sevens focus shifts to Rio

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/05/2016

Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens' focus is centred on the Rio Olympics as the All Blacks Sevens look to finish the world series on a high note at the London Sevens this weekend.

New Zealand's hopes of a series win effectively ended after they lost 19-17 to Argentina in last week's Paris Sevens quarter-finals.

The All Blacks Sevens finished seventh after losing their Plate semi-final 29-19 to South Africa. They currently lie third on the standings, seven points behind the Blitzbokke and 21 astray of leaders Fiji.

Despite being out of the running for a series win, Tietjens is looking for a strong finish to the All Blacks Sevens' injury-plagued season.

"We've been ravaged with injuries - it's probably a year that I've never seen before, or been involved with," Tietjens said.

"The injuries have just been horrendous. If I told you the number of players that I've got out now that would otherwise be part of this team, it's mind-boggling really.

"To be still sitting third - and we could hit second if we're really lucky - it's not a bad season in such a competitive environment."

Tietjens says the Ioane brothers, Rieko and Akira, are nearing the sort of form which could make them a big threat in Rio.

"They're real athletes - quick, big and powerful. They've just come out of 15s, and they've made the transition pretty quickly.

"For this weekend, we'd like to see them hit their straps and looking further down the track, also for Rio."

While Tietjens would like to finish the world series on a winning note, he says the long-term view towards the Olympics is more important.

"At the end of the day, people aren't going to really remember who won the world series. It's about who's going to win that first Olympic sevens gold medal."

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