Under the hot sun in Clermont-Ferrand, captains gathered on Thursday ahead of the last round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this weekend, with New Zealand on course to claim their fourth series title.

The Kiwis, who lost out to Australia on a gold medal at last year's Olympic Games, set their sights on a series win this season and have claimed top spot at tournaments in Dubai, Las Vegas, Kitakyushu and Langford this season.

They sit on top of the series standings with 96 points, 14 ahead of Canada and Australia who are tied on 82. Russia are in fourth place with 58 points. 

Black Ferns Sevens captain this weekend is Tyla Nathan Wong: "It's a pretty new team in here in France but we're loving this (warm) weather and are looking forward to the weekend. 

"We've done a bit of analysis on Japan, who are first up, and then the rest of our pool, USA and Ireland, but right now we're just looking forward to that first game.

"It would be a massive achievement for us, coming off last year where we finished behind Australia and then came second to them in that Olympic final. It's good to get a leg up this series and we're looking forward to playing well and hopefully lifting that title."

Australia have fond memories of Stade Gabriel Montpied in Clermont. It was there last May that they claimed their first sevens series title - the first Australian team in history to do so. Captain Sharni Williams is hoping for back-to-back success this year: "We've had some really good preparation, the weather is like back in Australia and we're looking forward to finishing the season on a high.

"We haven't won a tournament yet this season so we need to be winning this one. It was awesome to be able to claim the first ever series (last year), but this season we haven't performed to our full potential."

It would be understandable if the Canadians were ever so slightly distracted this week; their baggage still hasn't arrived from Victoria despite repeated pleas. But captain Ghislaine Landry insists they can only control what happens on the field: "Obviously when we arrived it was not the situation that we wanted to be in but the girls have been resilient that's why we bring carry-on luggage - for this exact situation. 


"For us, it's up to New Zealand to see how they perform, but obviously every tournament we're looking to get to the final so that's the plan for us."

Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 spots are also up for decision this weekend, with Australia, Fiji and Russia all looking certain to progress. The fourth spot looks likely to be between France, Ireland and England. 

Russia's Alena Mikhaltsova still leads the DHL series performance tracker on 265 points, 30 ahead of Ireland’s captain Lucy Mulhall, while New Zealand's Michaela Blyde sits four behind her on 231 points. Neither Mikhaltsova nor Mulhall feature in Clermont-Ferrand, so Blyde could be in line for the prize.

The action kicks off at Stade Gabriel Montpied on Saturday at midday (BST +1) when USA take on Ireland. Click here for the #Clermont7s fixtures