3 Dec 2015

NZ womens sevens chase another title

9:49 am on 3 December 2015

The New Zealand women's rugby sevens team will be chasing a fourth straight World Series title and a psychological edge ahead of the Olympics when the series starts in Dubai tonight.

New Zealand women's sevens team.

New Zealand women's sevens team. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The New Zealanders will play Russia, Brazil and France in pool play tonight.

They welcome some new faces to the fold this year, including Niall Williams, the sister of All Black Sonny Bill, and their captain Sarah Goss is excited for what lies ahead.

"We've had a long pre-season window, we've been training hard and we're just keen to get into it this season.

"Our team is pretty young this weekend, we have some injuries but they're coming back strong so we just want to show the world what we've been doing over the last few months," said Goss.

Last season New Zealand's Portia Woodman was the series' top try scorer with 52 and amassed 260 points in total.

Coach Sean Horan said his side had fond memories of Dubai having made the finals in all three tournaments and winning two of those.

"We've also seen the women's side of Dubai grow and that is the exciting thing with where we are now and where we are going," he said.

"It is a great feeling of a real cool international tournament with millions and millions of viewers. The fans love it, and the competition is at the highest level - what more do you want?

"It's a season that will have the road to Rio at the forefront of all conversations, with rugby sevens rapidly emerging as one of the world's most exciting Olympic sports and both series playing a key part in the Olympic countdown."

But it wasn't possible to look that far ahead and there was a lot of rugby to be played before the Olympics could be considered by those participating.

"I think it's different for the players and the coaches and management staff," Horan said.

"We try to keep them focused on the step-by-step process and if we can nail that then we know the outcome will take care of itself.

"It [the Olympics] is at the back of minds though and the players know where it is going, but for us as management, it is about the bigger picture," he said.

New Zealand's team in Dubai is: Ruby Tui, Hazel Tubic, Sarah Goss (captain), Morgan Morrow, Gayle Broughton, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Kelly Brazier, Katarina Whata-Simpkins, Portia Woodman, Niall Williams, Michaela Blyde, Shiray Tane.

The men's tournament starts Friday.

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