Forbes and All Blacks Sevens wary of juggling the XV man game

Getty Images and James Mortimer     27 Nov 2012     Getty Images

Alongside him he had a clutch of players, such as Tim Nanai-Williams, Sherwin Stowers and Niue's Tony Pulu, with direct experience of the Sevens World Series, and yet Forbes is arguably the most high profile as captain of his country, and New Zealand's most capped Sevens exponent with 52 tournaments.

With Sevens an increasingly specialist sport, though, it remains to be seen whether the likes of Forbes, who arrives in Dubai this week in search of further success, will be able to continue playing both 'codes' for too long.

"I don't think players would be able to play both Sevens and 15s at the very highest level, it's just too taxing," said Forbes' coach at Counties, Tana Umaga, in a recent chat with IRB Total Rugby.

"Sevens is relentless during tournament time and the preparation you have is pretty renowned now as being difficult, from what we know of Gordon Tietjens and his training regime in New Zealand.

"In terms of your body type, you don't want to be too big playing Sevens because you've got to be able to carry that around, whereas in 15s you want to make sure you can handle the knocks and inflict that contact," added Umaga, who did admit that backs such as Cory Jane could perhaps transition more easily.

Other kiwi forwards such as Solomon King have also balanced the two, although far less frequently, while backs such as Tim Mikkelson and Tomasi Cama have found it easier to transfer Sevens form and fitness to the ITM Cup stage.

It is testament to Forbes' fitness and discipline, though, that he has been able to do so as a forward for so long.
Sevens fast track

Umaga was also quick to point out the wider benefits to young players of being immersed inside the Rugby Sevens set-up.

"From my perspective as a provincial coach, what I think is great for the young players who get selected is that he (Gordon Tietjens) instills in them a work ethic, the ability to work hard and know the rewards that come from hard work," said Umaga.

"He develops that mental toughness to be able to get through his rigourous training, and the discipline required to play Sevens with the nutrition.

"Gordon is very big on that (nutrition) and when you get a young guy who comes back with that mentality it fast-tracks them. Those that don't go there (Sevens), it takes them that little bit longer to understand all those little things outside the rugby paddock."