Captain Forbes ready to dig deep for New Zealand

No matter how well you prepare for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, sometimes a tournament will throw up a few unexpected road blocks.

For New Zealand, the Dubai Sevens was one those tournaments. By the end of the second day of the opening round, head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens had lost five key players. Captain Scott Curry (dislocated shoulder), Gillies Kaka (ankle), Tim Mikkelson (concussion), Sherwin Stowers (broken arm) and Regan Ware (ankle) have all flown home. To say Dubai was attritional is an understatement.

One player who has seen it all before is DJ Forbes. He has been involved in the New Zealand sevens setup now for almost a decade. With Curry returning home, Forbes has reassumed the captaincy duties and is level headed in his assessment of Dubai.

"All in all I think Dubai was pretty tragic in terms of injury toll but I think there's still a lot of key learnings," he said. "Getting some of the young blood into the team was crucial and the only way you are going to get good at sevens is to experience the tough tournaments.

As hard as it was, it was a good test for the young guys and us old horses as well. Still, finishing in the top four and seeing some of the big nations outside that top four is a positive sign for us."

In Dubai, New Zealand lost twice to USA and were pushed to a three point victory by Samoa, as well as losing out to Fiji in the Cup semi-finals. That said, they still managed to finish fourth and gain some vital points towards the overall series. But which areas does DJ think need to be worked on ahead of the Cape Town Sevens?

"If you look at some of our crucial games from Dubai, you’ll see the kick offs are key and this is something we will be putting a lot of emphasis on at Cape Town," said Forbes. "Everyone knows sevens is about possession and a lot of those games could have come down to the bounce of the ball. That’s probably where we let ourselves down a little bit so we will be working on that area of our game. All in all with the amount of men we had left standing we still did some really good things so we're really excited about another weekend and getting back into it."

New Zealand will face France, Canada and Samoa. They beat both France and Samoa in Dubai yet Forbes is wary of being complacent.

"It just gets tougher and tougher. We’ve already been extremely close against Samoa at Dubai and Canada are going to be chomping at the bit and will have been disappointed with how they did last weekend," he said. "France will be thinking they missed out against us as well and they will have confidence after winning the Bowl, so I guess it’s going to set up an interesting Pool."

With four series titles since 2010 though, New Zealand's pedigree in sevens is unquestionable. Dubai may not have been the ideal start, but Forbes believes a few simple changes can get them back to winning ways:

"As bad as some of the games were in terms of results, we were still playing some really good footy. We just need to do the basics well and get a bit more possession and keep up the pressure. We will definitely be getting closer to those top positions and we will keep building."