All Blacks Sevens take confidence from Los Angeles triumph

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It was their first tournament win since Vancouver in 2019.


Coach Clark Laidlaw said, "It gives us real confidence and belief that what we've been trying to do over the last five tournaments, and six if you include the Commonwealth Games, really works.


"We can see that in the players. We can see they are starting to believe and have real confidence in themselves and we can see them calm under pressure and that bodes well."


However, being seeded fifth meant they had a tough road at the World Cup with a first game against Scotland and then Argentina - one of the top sides in the world.


Laidlaw said the win rewarded the amount of work put in over the last two-and-a-half years when lockdowns in New Zealand prevented them from playing their usual amount of rugby.


They were able to play in five of this year's world series tournaments, missing the first four. To make three finals, and win the last in Los Angeles, was satisfying, especially with the injuries they suffered, including before the tournament started.


They showed grit and determination, and that was a positive sign.


Laidlaw said there had been no senior sevens in New Zealand for three or four years, and they had a group of players who couldn't travel and play for two and a half years, so to make three finals out of five had been an unbelievable achievement.


"It's something we're hugely excited around. We've debuted six players this year, three new staff members and made three finals," he said.


The way they played on the first day against the United States and South Africa was encouraging, while they were efficient and effective against Ireland in their quarterfinal.

"I think Samoa [semifinal opponent] are one or two tournaments away from winning. They're a quality team, and to come back the way we did with two yellow cards, being down by two scores twice in the game, really summed up the weekend.


"It was a hell of a final, a great final," he said.


Kurt Baker, who completed his 50th tournament, said, "We had to fight our way out of that semifinal with Samoa, and then we met our old foes [Fiji] in the final.


"To get this one, the way we got it, with the group we've got, is positive."


"We've found in the past that winning breeds winning. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get that win, and now those boys have been a part of it.


"It is pretty exciting now those boys that are here have had that feeling because once you get it, it's pretty hard to lose."


Laidlaw said for those who had never played sevens before, it was hard to understand how difficult it was to win a tournament.


For players who had never played more than schoolboy sevens, it was difficult to teach them how deep players needed to go into their soul to win a tournament.


"After this weekend these boys now understand what that takes," he said.


The tournament took its toll with Rodrick Solo suffering a dislocated shoulder and Leroy Carter a leg injury in a freak training accident that will keep them out of the World Cup. Che Clark and Joe Webber were injured on the last day and would have to be assessed, but Laidlaw said Clark was more doubtful than Webber.


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