New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens is happy with the state of his squad and is confident that they have what it takes to get their World Series defence off to a good start on the Gold Coast this weekend.
Tietjens admitted that as defending champions his team will have a big target on their backs this season, but added that the focus is solely on getting their campaign off to a solid start in Australia.
He said: "Going into a new Series there is always added pressure being defending champions but it is not so much about defending that title, it is more about going out and winning it again, starting here in Australia."
The New Zealand boss said that the bumper start to the season would test the resilience of all the teams and he remains hopeful that the new players in his squad will inject the necessary energy.
"It is a little different, going into three back-to-back tournaments which will be very mentally and physically challenging on the players, but we have some new players, and a new squad having lost a few players from last year," he said.
Tietjens has a reputation as a fearsome task master who insists on the highest fitness levels, so when he says his squad is fit you know he means it.
"We needed to come to this tournament with a fully fit squad. I know a few teams who have had picked up a few knocks having played a tournament and if we had we would have played four tournaments in a row and I don't think some of the players could handle it," he commented.
Tietjens' charges will face a strong challenge from the South African team that finished in second place last year after a storming end to the season which saw them claim silverware in the last two tournaments.
Hosts Australia will also pose a serious threat with new skipper Ed Jenkins looking to lead the way while perrenial contenders such as Fiji, Samoa and England will also want to make a big statement in the opening exchanges of the season.
Pool A: New Zealand, Fiji, Kenya, Niue
Pool B: South Africa, Australia, United States, Japan
Pool C: Samoa, Argentina, France, Papua New Guinea
Pool D: England, Wales, Scotland, Tonga
Day One schedule
(Kick-off is local time - GMT plus 10 hours)
Game 1: Samoa v France - 12.35
Game 2: Argentina v Papua New Guinea - 12.57
Game 3: England v Scotland - 13.19
Game 4: Wales v Tonga - 13.41
Game 5: New Zealand v Kenya - 14.03
Game 6: Fiji v Niue - 14.25
Game 7: South Africa v United States - 14.47
Game 8: Australia v Japan - 15.09
Game 9: Samoa v Papua New Guinea - 15.41
Game 10: Argentina v France - 16.03
Game 11: England v Tonga - 16.25
Game 12: Wales v Scotland - 16.47
Game 13: New Zealand v Niue - 17.09
Game 14: Fiji v Kenya - 17.31
Game 15: South Africa v Japan - 17.53
Game 16: Australia v United States - 18.15
Game 17: France v Papua New Guinea - 18.52
Game 18: Scotland v Tonga - 19.14
Game 19: Kenya v Niue - 19.36
Game 20: United States v Japan - 19.58
Game 21: Samoa v Argentina - 20.30
Game 22: England v Wales - 20.52
Game 23: New Zealand v Fiji - 21.14
Game 24: South Africa v Australia - 21.36
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