Laidlaw keen to build on early success

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    13 Dec 2017     Getty Images

Laidlaw, 40, a former Scotland Sevens player, saw New Zealand win the South Africa leg of the HSBC World Seven series at the weekend in only his second tournament as coach of the side.

The son of former Scotland and British & Irish Lions halfback Roy Laidlaw, and a cousin to Greig Laidlaw, he was delighted with the success in Cape Town.

The Scotsman newspaper reported him saying: "I am pleased for the squad to get this victory under our belts and it now sets us up nicely heading into 2018.

"There is a lot to work on, but I am excited to be with this group. I said when I took up the post that it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to become head coach of the All Blacks Sevens team and I'm excited and massively honoured to be coaching a team I have always considered very special.

"My goal is to develop a world-class programme that sees players peak at pinnacle events. Everything is going to be geared towards bringing home gold from the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

"Sevens should be a route to develop players for Super Rugby and the All Blacks, and be an important part of players' development pathways," he said.

New Zealand's record in sevens has been impressive under Sir Gordon Tietjens' care for 22 years. Four Commonwealth Games gold medals, two Rugby World Cup Sevens titles and 12 World Rugby Sevens series were achieved.

"We have made a lot of changes in the way the team prepares for events while there are a few new faces and we want the core group to really lead things.

"The game of sevens has changed a lot from when I was playing, the athletes are a lot bigger and a lot more countries are putting money and backing into the game.

"You only have to look at the fact that countries like Canada and Scotland won World Series events last season to see the strength in depth of the circuit and it really is a test to get out of the pool stages each week let alone win a tournament.

"People talk a lot about the fact that I am a non-Kiwi coaching the team, but I have a great affinity with New Zealand and have built up good relationships there. That combined with my passion for sevens and its ever-evolving nature should see us doing all right I hope," he said.

Laidlaw, who has relocated his family to Wellingon, had been a skills coach and video analyst with the side under Tietjens while he also coached the Taranaki and Wellington Sevens' sides in national events. He was also an assistant coach with the Hurricanes and also with London Irish.