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Why the All Blacks Sevens are ‘confident’ before historic leg in Hong Kong

By Finn Morton
New Zealands mens and womens teams celebrate winning the final on the third day of the Hong Kong Sevens on April 2, 2023. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP) (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)

SVNS Series veteran Dylan Collier is back from an injury layoff and ready to lead the All Blacks Sevens into battle as they look to become the last team to take out Cup final glory at the iconic Hong Kong Stadium this weekend.

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From 2025, Kai Tak Sports Park will stage the event in Hong Kong China. For those who have enjoyed some famous moments at the venue over the years, this is the final chapter with another about to be written.

New Zealand won the Hong Kong Sevens for the first time in 1986. The likes of Sir Wayne Smith, David Kirk and Sir Wayne Shelford helped steer the rugby-mad nation to glory at what had become an unmissable celebration of the sport.

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Other All Blacks have tried their hand at rugby’s shorter format and starred including Jonah Lomu. But it was New Zealand’s latest success which quite possibly stands above all others as a truly momentous occasion for rugby.

Captain Collier hoisted the Hong Kong Sevens trophy in triumph at last year’s event and did so with legendary Black Fern Sarah Hirini standing beside him. That was the first time the women’s international circuit had stopped in Hong Kong China.

As fireworks shot into the night sky at Hong Kong Stadium, both New Zealand teams let out a cheer in sheer jubilation, glory and relief. It’s not an easy tournament to win as Dylan Collier will tell you.

“I’ve played the most tournaments here in my team. I think this is my sixth time here and I’ve only actually won it once,” Collier told RugbyPass after the captain’s photo at Hong Kong Stadium on Wednesday.

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“It’s a hard tournament to win. There’s not a lot of teams that have won here.

“It’s just a different feeling when you win here, just all that history. This is where the game of sevens started.

“We’re pretty confident coming into this weekend and there’s a lot of boys really wanting to rip in and play well.”

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Looking to go back-to-back at the spiritual home of rugby sevens, the All Blacks Sevens have been dealt some mixed injury news with the return of Collier a clear highlight.

Collier was injured during New Zealand’s first match at SVNS Perth in January and has not taken to the field since. But more than two months on, the Olympian is back in black.

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The 32-year-old has recovered from a torn calf to lead New Zealand at the Hong Kong Sevens from Friday to Sunday. It’s an important inclusion with other key players missing the event through injury.

2023 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year nominees Leroy Carter and Akuila Rokolisoa have been ruled out, as has veteran Tim Mikkelson. About eight players are unavailable in total.

“That’s been a little bit of the tough thing this year too is we can’t get a consistent team out on the field. We’re changing teams just about every tournament,” Collier added.

“It’s just about next man up and the next person’s got to do the job.

“Obviously Leroy and Sam Dickson and that, they’re obviously big parts of our team, but it’s got to be the next man up.”

But for the All Blacks Sevens, the past is not their focus. This is a team that’s focused simply on “what we can control.”

New Zealand have missed the Cup quarter-finals twice this season but also made the final at SVNS Vancouver at BC Place Stadium in late February.

Finn Morton spoke with All Blacks Sevens captain Dylan Collier before the Hong Kong Sevens. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)

This is an All Blacks Sevens outfit that might not be the finished product just yet, but they’ve still got plenty of “confidence” that they can win it all on one of the biggest stages in rugby sevens.

“Obviously we haven’t played that well this year,” he explained. ‘…but we still want to play well and we haven’t been.

“We can only control what we can control and we’ve been training well and that’s what’s been giving us confidence.

“We went over to Fiji and played at the Marist Sevens which was an awesome tournament. We trained today, and played against Japan and Hong Kong.

“The pleasing part is we know we can win and we know we can play well. It’s just about putting it out on the park.”

New Zealand are set to play SVNS LAX finalists Great Britain first up on Friday afternoon (local time) before also playing Series frontrunners Argentina and the United States in Pool B.

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Comments

2 Comments
J
Jmann 70 days ago

NZRFU made a massive error with their coaching appointment and are paying the price.

A
Andrew 71 days ago

Good luck…Theyrecgoing to need it. I dont think the elderly silverblack 7s will make the playoffs

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