All Blacks Sevens captain Scott Curry looks ahead to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2015-16 for the official series website.
Obviously the World Cup was massive news over here and getting the win was pretty special for the whole country. It has whet the appetite to get into this series, and to start getting that winning feeling again in sevens. Seeing those guys up on that stage brings back memories for us because we have experienced it ourselves over the years. To have the opportunity to do likewise at the Olympics is pretty exciting.
Last season was my first as a New Zealand Sevens player without a winner’s medal at the end of it. It wasn’t an experience I’d like to repeat again, if at all possible. When I first came into the set-up in 2010 we won four straight series titles and, in some ways, you could say that we perhaps took winning for granted. Last season, though, the results show how tight things have become. Every result matters. It came down to the last day in London last season when three teams – ourselves, eventual champions Fiji and runners-up South Africa – were all still in with a chance of being crowned champions.
Level playing field
Long gone are the days when the result of a match against some teams would be a formality. Countries who were once considered ‘minnows’ are now competing and pushing the top teams to the limit. The amount of analysis that goes into each tournament is probably the biggest change from when I first started playing. Nowadays every team is doing their analysis straight after games and previewing the opposition, whereas there was almost none of that before. It is bound to influence how teams play against each other.
This series will definitely play an important role leading into the Olympics. The form team will obviously go to Rio as favourites, and we want to be that team because momentum is a big thing in sport. To do that we must perform well throughout the whole of the series. Like all the other teams we want to evolve our game plan, and this series gives us an opportunity to try out new tactics, new players and new combinations.
Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams are back from the World Cup and have been training hard. Aside from the fitness demands, which are obviously a factor, I think defending is going to be the hardest part for players coming to sevens from 15s. There is a heap of a lot more space to cover with only seven guys on the field. We’ll be trying out a few different defensive styles throughout the year and then hopefully settle on one that works. What position will Sonny Bill play? To be honest, I’m not sure. If I’m guessing I’d say somewhere in the backs, maybe in midfield. A lot of our players can play both, and he is probably one of those who can slot into the forwards and backs if needed.
For me, it is a great honour to be named captain for the 2015-16 series, and I hope to be able to lead the team out in Dubai. I tweaked my hamstring during the Central Coast Sevens in Australia and my focus since then has been on my rehab and getting right for the series opener. It was a bit of a shock when DJ (Forbes) stood down but I was pretty stoked to get asked to replace him as captain for what should be a pretty exciting series. Captaincy is not really something that you actively think about really but, looking back, I definitely learnt a lot from DJ in terms of how he approached the role and how he does things around the team.
CURRY’S HOT SHOTS
Scott Curry identifies a couple of All Blacks Sevens players who he thinks will set the 2015-16 series alight
Isaac Te Aute – Pacey 19-year-old who has huge potential. Putting a lot of pressure on the incumbents in the half-back role and will be pressing for a starting spot.
Lewis Ormond – An ex-basketballer with really good ball skills. Commands the aerial battles and is really physical. Younger brother of Taranaki Sevens player Jackson Ormond.