Olympic Games lure provides extra motivation in Hamilton

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The men's and women's competitions resume after the holiday break for Hamilton's last time hosting the series.

All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw said that his side would be looking to hit the ground running from day one with that Olympic goal in mind.

"The players can't wait to get out on the field at FMG Stadium Waikato and put on their best performance in front of a big home crowd one last time. We are looking forward to it," he said.

Third-placed New Zealand face Britain, Australia and invitation team Tonga in their pool.

Samoa, who won the Cape Town tournament before the holidays, and shares the series lead with South Africa on 47 points after three rounds, have Olympic champions Fiji, France and Kenya in their pool. New Zealand has 44 points in third-equal place with the United States. Fiji is fifth on 40 points.

The Black Ferns Sevens coach Cory Sweeney said: "To be back playing in a World Series event on our Whenua since 2020 is incredibly exciting. The team has been looking forward to competing on home turf in front of their whānau and fans.

"It's going to be a memorable weekend for all of us, especially the players taking the field for the final time in Hamilton.

New Zealand, who share the series lead after two rounds, will play Britain, Fiji and invitation team Papua New Guinea in their pool.

Fellow competition leaders Australia will have France, Canada and Japan in their pool.

After losing 14-32 to New Zealand in Cape Town, the Australians are keen to respond to what star player Madison Ashby said was a 'big reality check.'

"I think after the game we all looked at each other and went 'we can't wait to get back on December 29," she told rugby.com.au.

"We all knew we played badly, and that was not our best. We want to be the best, but we want to be the best by a long shot.

"We don't want any team to come close to taking the title from us. For us, it's a very humbling experience, but we have that drive to be better."


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