All Blacks Sevens aim to capitalise on home support

Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Lynn McConnell     12 Dec 2018     Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

After winning the opening round in Dubai, 10 days ago, New Zealand were rocked by injuries, fielding several new players when finishing fourth in the second round in Cape Town.

The beaten finalists in both opening rounds, the United States, lead the competition on 38 points, one point ahead of New Zealand with Fiji two further back, England in fourth on 30 points and South Africa on 29.

New Zealand are drawn with Japan, who they play at 12.36pm on Saturday, followed by Canada at 4.26pm and Spain in the final game of the opening day at 8.36pm.

In Pool A, Fiji are drawn with Australia, Argentina and Wales. Series leaders the United States are drawn with England, Samoa and Tonga in Pool B while South Africa, who beat New Zealand for the bronze medal in Cape Town at the weekend, are in Pool C with Scotland, France and Kenya.

All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw said the side were looking forward to playing at home.

"The crowd in Hamilton earlier this year was amazing and we're sure that will be the case next year," he said.

Seeing South Africa take advantage of the outstanding support they had with 50,000 fans cheering them on in Cape Town to beat the All Blacks Sevens in the bronze medal match was a reminder of what they could expect when they were at home in January.

"We're looking forward to starting 2019 with the crowd behind us in Hamilton," he said.

Apart from wanting to get back on a winning road Olympic qualification for the 2020 Games in Tokyo is the goal for all the sides in the competition and World Series standings are vital.

"Every tournament is crucial and we know when we play at home it is an opportunity to not only put on a good performance for our fans but to earn vital points for the World Series standings," Laidlaw said.

"We've already seen in the first two legs of the World Series that all teams are competitive. It's closer than it's ever been.

"Coming up against Spain, Canada and Japan in pool play will be tough assignment," Laidlaw said.