Hong Kong Sevens Preview

Getty Images     07 Apr 2017     Getty Images

There will be no easy ride through to the quarterfinal stage with the All Blacks Sevens drawn in an extremely challenging pool. Reigning Olympic Champions Fiji headline the pool alongside the always tough Wales and fast improving Japan. The All Blacks Sevens strike Wales first on day one before playing Japan and Fiji on day two. A slip up in one of the first games could see Scott Waldrom’s side needing to beat Fiji to progress to the Cup quarterfinal phase.

The All Blacks Sevens have been boosted by the return from injury of Sam Dickson who has been named as a travelling reserve. The 1.92m forward is a skilled exponent in the air and one of the best ball challengers from the kick off. Dickson is a seasoned campaigner and will provide guidance for some of the younger players in the squad – including debuatant Joe Ravouvou. Fijian-born Ravouvou impressed for Auckland during last year’s Mitre 10 Cup with his explosive ball running and off-loading ability. If Ravouvou can gain some early confidence, he could become a crucial attacking asset as the tournament progresses. 

The one constant in rugby sevens is that the Hong Sevens has remained the pinnacle event for over three decades. In that time, Fiji has won 16 championships, New Zealand 11, Australia five, England four and Samoa three. History beckons for Sevens World Series leaders South Africa to win their first Hong Kong tournament. Can they capture their fifth tournament win on the 2016/17 circuit and with it virtually wrap up the overall title?

All Blacks Sevens coach Scott Waldrom said the side is looking forward to playing on the biggest stage in sevens rugby: "Hong Kong is the Holy Grail of Sevens tournaments and brings out the best in teams so we are excited about the challenges ahead and believe we have the ability to do well if we get the basics right and play with consistency which is what we have been working on in training.”

Scott Curry (C), Dylan Collier, DJ Forbes, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Trael Joass, Vilimoni Koroi, Tim Mikkelson, Sione Molia, Joe Ravouvou, Isaac Te Tamaki, Beaudein Waaka, Regan Ware

Thirteenth player: Andrew Knewstubb (Tasman)

Travelling reserve: Sam Dickson (Canterbury)

Schedule for All Blacks Sevens pool play:

Friday 7th April 2017
11.32pm NZT v Wales

Saturday 8th April 2017
4.50pm NZT v Japan
9.12pm NZT v Fiji

Sunday 9th April 2017
Finals Day

Watch the action LIVE on SKY Sport channel 56 from 4pm on Friday 7 April.