NZ looking forward to home crowd

Clark Laidlaw. Photo: Getty Images
Clark Laidlaw. Photo: Getty Images
The All Blacks Sevens will be after an improved performance at the Hamilton sevens this weekend.

The side will play Japan, Canada and Spain in pool play today and one would think should get through those games unbeaten.

But it will be a more severe examination tomorrow as sides look to make an impact in the first tournament of the new year.

New Zealand finished fourth at the inaugural tournament last year, going down to Fiji in the semifinal and then losing 8-7 to Australia in the playoff for third and fourth.

New Zealand has named a powerful side. Joe Ravouvou is now available for the New Zealand after fulfilling his residency requirements.

Otago players Jona Nareki and Vilimoni Koroi are fronting up for the side and should see plenty of action.

Coach Clark Laidlaw said the team was channelling the excitement of playing in front of a home crowd.

''That pressure and expectation is exciting us. It's something we want, because we are one of the few teams that get a home tournament and that's a huge advantage,'' he said.

The All Blacks Sevens have fond memories of a vocal home crowd from playing in Hamilton last year.

''It was a great crowd. The atmosphere was unreal, especially in the quarter and semifinal.

''It's almost sold out, so if the crowd is the same as last year, we'll be delighted.''

The All Blacks Sevens last won the New Zealand tournament in 2016, when it was in Wellington and have won their home tournament nine times in total. They sit second on the world series points table.

The series shifts to Sydney next weekend.

The Black Ferns Sevens women's team will play China, France and England in a fast finals tournament in Hamilton over the weekend.

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