Refining Execution: All Blacks Sevens' Quest for Cape Town Triumph
All Blacks Sevens coach Tomasi Cama expects the side to make more of an impact in the second round Cape Town Sevens in the HSBC SVNS World Series at the weekend.
The defending series champions placed third in Dubai, and Cama expects some of the early-season tactical sharpness to improve from the lack of execution as players get back into the speed and tempo of the faster game.
While he was pleased with the effort in Dubai, especially the good work done on both sides of the ball and in the contact area, where much work had been done in preparation, he hoped for improved decision-making in South Africa.
"Our execution last week let us down. We created a lot of opportunities, but we didn't take them with poor execution. We will put our emphasis on that this week.
"At times we were trying to overdo, or overwork, our jobs, but that comes from not looking at opportunities and executing it earlier."
Cama said that they have concentrated on launching their game from the set pieces and their phase attack and defence in preparing for the weekend. They were also building on performing under fatigue, which he was hopeful would be reflected in their play.
While opposing sides in Dubai showed the benefit of being together preparing, Cama said he was happy with where the All Blacks Sevens were after many players came in from playing 15s.
"It's not an excuse for us, but you can tell if you don't prepare well. Coming into these tournaments, you will get found out quickly, as you saw last week.
"In our first two games we had to find a way to win. We probably played a couple of good games and then in a couple of games we didn't get the result, so you can tell there are no easy games now. It's going to be another big challenge this week."
In taking over from Clark Laidlaw as coach, he said there was a lot more emphasis on his overall management of the players and coaching group from his earlier role as assistant coach.
From a Sevens perspective, the game was constantly evolving, but New Zealand's asset was young players coming through with strength, speed and power that was useful in developing a game plan to use those qualities.
"We are trying to design a game that suits individuals but works for us as a team. And some of our players have the experience to guide those [newer] players.
Cama said Xavier Tito-Harris had joined the playing group for Cape Town after an injury suffered by Regan Ware last weekend in Dubai.
Their opening game is against Canada, who were in their group in Dubai.
He said Canada was an organised side, and New Zealand must start well.
"We didn't get our flow right last week against them in our first game. We've got a tournament under our belt now. We know what we need to do well against those boys."
He said they would need to be stronger in the contact area, and they will target that in their first game.
Captain Sione Molia said the side had settled in well in Cape Town, where they enjoyed the support of a large fan base.
"They are very proud, second-class New Zealanders. They love the black jersey, they love supporting the boys. They were waiting for us at the hotel lobby just to get our signatures and [are] always cheering for us at the stadium which is awesome."
Molia said the main lesson from their opening round in Dubai was the need to execute the opportunities they create.
"And being ruthless around those small moments that are created and executing our small jobs."
He said they are expecting a physical tussle with Canada first up. They had a good contest in Dubai, so they were doing their homework on them, hoping they could 'put them to the sword' at the weekend.
They were looking for Tito-Harris to bring a lot of speed and X factor to the side.
Black Ferns captain Risaleaana Pouri-Lane, appointed in the injured Sarah Hirini's place, said they were disappointed to miss out on the Dubai final to Australia. Still, they took a lot of lessons from the game and were looking to apply them in Cape Town.
"It was heart-breaking seeing one of our people go down, especially Gossy [Sarah Hirini], but I understand the responsibility that comes from the position I'm in. But I've got a lot of support around me that takes the weight off my shoulders."
She said replacement Tysha Ikenasio was an exciting player, and while Ikenasio wouldn't admit to being fast, her speed was deceptive. She could step, always bringing something to the team and had exciting energy.
The Black Ferns were finalists last year in Cape Town but were not feeling any pressure. They were enjoying the fact they had another week of play to extend their development and to be better than they were in Dubai.