In 11 tournaments they won 50 out of 63 games but were runners up five times - consigned to a bronze medal at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games after losing in the semis to Fiji.
This weekend the All Black Sevens head into the penultimate round of the 2022/23 World Series in Toulouse 24 points ahead of Argentina.
They have won four of the nine tournaments this season and a semi-final appearance in Toulouse should be enough to secure spoils.
Leroy Carter is a big reason for the transformation of the All Black Sevens from respectable runners-up to resolute winners.
The bustling Bay of Plenty speedster has been MVP in three Cup final triumphs.
At the Los Angeles Sevens in February, he scored two tries in a 22-12 win over Argentina.
Last month at the Hong Kong Sevens he scored the opening try in a comprehensive win against Fiji. His hustle refusing to accept an apparently over-struck grubber going dead was an exercise in extreme pace and bravery. Cater outpaced two swift Fijians and put his body on the line sliding into the advertising boards.
A week later in Singapore, Carter engineered tries for Regan Ware and Dylan Collier in a 19-17 win over Argentina.
What's led to the surge of greater individual and team confidence?
"Little things," Carter responded.
"I can't pinpoint an exact moment or tournament where things changed. We weren't far away; it was just a matter of working hard and trusting our processes."
Carter spent much of his youth on the Gold Coast. He returned to New Zealand to attend Tauranga Boys’ College which kick-started his rugby career.
A gritty halfback, he cracked the First XV in 2016 mentored by long-time Hurricanes hero Jason Spice. In 2017 Carter was named player of the tournament at the National Condor Sevens.
“I loved my time at Tauranga Boys.’ We weren’t the biggest, strongest, or quickset First XV, but we were all local and played our guts out for the jersey.
“Spicy really took me under his wing and helped me develop as a player and a person. I made some of my best friends at Tauranga Boys.'
“I enjoyed sevens more than fifteens. To finish third twice at Nationals was a phenomenal effort. We beat some really big schools with good athletes.”
In 2018 Carter was a member of the Bay of Plenty Under 19s that won the Graham Mourie Cup as winners of the National Jock Hobbs Memorial U19 tournament.
The Tauranga Sports product was selected for the New Zealand Under 20s in 2019 and later debuted for Bay of Plenty in the NPC. His first two seasons on the wing for the Steamers were decent but Sevens was a more compelling option. Bay of Plenty teammate and All Blacks Sevens gun Joe Webber persuaded Carter to commit to Sevens full-time.
“I loved it straight away. I have trained pretty hard, but it is still a bit of a surprise when your career goes off so fast.”
Carter scored two tries in the 3 v 4 play-off against Australia (26-12) to secure a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. In 2023 he’s been one of the best Sevens players in the world. Who’s toughest to play?
“I don’t really think about individual opponents. The great thing about the World Series is that there are so many good players that it inspires you to be better,” Carter said.
The All Black Sevens are grouped with Canada, Kenya, and Uruguay in Toulouse. Those three countries are ranked outside the top ten of the World Series standings, but Carter is taking nothing for granted.
“In Sevens anyone can beat anyone on the day. All it takes is the bounce of the ball or someone quicker to get an outside break. We expect Kenya to bring the physicality.”
Carter is All Blacks Sevens representative 300. He has that number tattooed on his left arm as well as an I Am Hope logo. Carter is a keen supporter of the mental health charity.