Glasgow Sevens: DJ Forbes excited for New Zealand’s ‘pool of death’
All Blacks captain looks ahead to round eight of the HSBC Sevens World Series with their title and Olympic qualification on the line
DJ Forbes revealed his excitement for New Zealand to be in a tough pool at the Glasgow Sevens this weekend.
The defending HSBC Sevens World Series champions face current leaders South Africa as well as difficult tests against Samoa and Kenya on what promises to be an enthralling day one at Scotstoun Stadium.
We’ve got to make sure we treat every game we play like a final, because we’ve got to be that good to keep winning.
With no easy matches, the All Blacks Sevens are in for a tough weekend as they also look to retain the Ned Haig Cup they have taken away on their last two visits to the home of Glasgow Warriors.
While Olympic qualification is in the minds of many players with just two rounds to play this season, captain Forbes admitted New Zealand have to treat every game this weekend like a final if they are to return to their best after a disappointing outing in Tokyo last month.
“I’ve had some hard pools over my career, but this has definitely got to be up there,” Forbes said during a photo call at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow’s West End.
“Pool of death is the cliche, but a lot of the pools across the board are tough now.
“It’s exciting for the players, but it’s a hard game to play.
“Back in the day, you might have had one or two easy beats, but if you look at that pool and you weren’t a fan of rugby you wouldn’t be too sure who is the top and bottom of it.
“We’ve got to make sure we treat every game we play like a final, because we’ve got to be that good to keep winning.
“It’s going to be a pretty physical pool to say the least and, hopefully, whoever gets through this, you’d bank on them going all the way.”
Compared to their lofty heights in international sevens rugby, New Zealand have endured a difficult 12 months since they were crowned champions for a fourth consecutive year.
We’ve probably been a bit inconsistent. Sometimes we’ve played five good games and some we’ve maybe only played three or four.
They lost the Commonwealth Games final to South Africa at Ibrox in the south of Glasgow last July and have won just one of four Cup finals in this season’s World Series – their only tournament win coming at their home event in Wellington back in February.
A fourth-place finish at Dubai and fifth-place finishes at Gold Coast and Tokyo has helped Sir Gordon Tietjens’ men to third in the World Series standings with 120 points, five behind Fiji and nine behind South Africa.
Forbes conceded that the World Series is as competitive as it ever has been and the All Blacks have struggled to be consistent this season with South Africa and Fiji winning five rounds between them, while England lifted the Cup in Japan.
“The critics, who are watching quite closely, can see that any team can beat any of the so-called ‘big teams’ on any given day,” he added.
“It’s been that way for at least four, five years now. Some of the teams keep winning overall, but in terms of upsets – there’s been a lot for many years.
“It’s crazy now. In 15s, the bounce of a ball, errors, penalties, over 80 minutes you can grind it out. In sevens, seven minutes to try and turn around a game is not really long enough the way these teams are playing today.
“It’s exciting for sevens as an Olympic sport, because that’s what it is now, and it’s what spectators want to see. As players, it’s definitely getting harder and harder.
“We’ve probably been a bit inconsistent. Sometimes we’ve played five good games and some we’ve maybe only played three or four.
“We all know when New Zealand is playing that we’ve got to be on top of our game.
“Every game is like a final for every team that plays us.”