All Blacks Sevens want to build on Sydney recovery

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Lynn McConnell     31 Jan 2018     Getty Images

By turning around their pool loss to Fiji with a 31-7 win in the playoff for fifth place, New Zealand showed the value of fighting all the way by keeping in touch with leaders South Africa who were beaten in the final by Australia.
That had demonstrated how close the sides were in the series and how every chance had to be taken.

Tim Mikkelson said on Tuesday, "We've got France first and every time we play them we have a pretty good battle with them. They've got big boys up front and a lot of pace and power out wide. We've got to start well against them," he said.

New Zealand had been working on game plans on Tuesday to prepare for the French, and for their other pool games against Scotland and Argentina, and if they were able to implement that then things should go well for them.

In their fifth place finish in Sydney, in which they beat Fiji 31-7, Mikkelson said it was a case when being out of the running for the main prize they could either step up or not.

"We're really pleased with that first half and the way we 'd'd' up and earned the right to score points and if we can do that this week then I think we could be hard to beat," he said.

Mikkelson said it would be awesome to play in Hamilton. The side only got to play once in New Zealand each series.

"We travel all around the world playing nine or 10 tournaments and to be able to play here in Hamilton is going to be something special. There's a few boys from Hamilton in our team now so it is extra special for them," he said.

Having grown up in Matamata he said he had always wanted to play in a big tournament at FMG Stadium after having seen Ranfurly Shield challenges and Super Rugby games.

Local fans should just enjoy the Sevens on show because there were a lot of awesome teams playing some good rugby so fans should get involved and enjoy the football, Mikkelson said.

The changed venue from Wellington to Hamilton offered something different for all the sides and the usual pre-tournament photo shoot for all the captains of the visiting sides was held at the Hobbiton site of the Lord of the Ring movies.

That had created a bit of a buzz among the players involved on the bus trip out to the venue, he said.