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Forbes wants to be around for Rio Olympics

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2012
NZ wins 2012 Sevens World Series
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New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens and Captain DJ Forbes celebrate winning the Sevens World Series.

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Victorious New Zealand sevens rugby captain DJ Forbes is considering dropping the 15-man code, further proof of sevens' ever-growing status after its inclusion for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

On a day when New Zealand claimed their 10th world series title, coach Gordon Tietjens was inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame, and star playmaker Tomasi Cama was named world sevens player of the year, Forbes' admission may have been slightly buried.

But it shouldn't be. Sevens is no longer just a springboard to the 15-man game. It has huge carrots of its own and Forbes, a veteran of 51 tournaments and still only 29 years old, admits he is desperate to hang around for Rio de Janeiro.

"I think I've just got to make a decision whether or not to drop a code. I'm still playing 15s and sevens," he said yesterday. "Hopefully, I've got four more years in me, going for the Olympics. It's possible, but I've still got to keep my spot."

Forbes was in vintage form as New Zealand retained their world crown, the forward notching his 100th career try before his team bowed out to eventual winners Fiji in the semifinals of the season-ending tournament at Twickenham in London yesterday.

The loss wasn't enough to dampen their mood, however, having earlier claimed the world title following the quarterfinal victory over South Africa. Like they have so often done, Fiji had to settle for second overall.

It only got better for the Kiwis, with Tietjens becoming the 49th person to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Twickenham shortly after the tournament, while Cama picked up the player of the year gong.

Tietjens' roll of honour – 10 world series titles, a World Cup, and four Commonwealth Games gold medals – is without peer in sevens. Since he began coaching the New Zealand team in 1994, 37 All Blacks have passed through his tough regime – that continues to set the bar, if this season is anything to go by.

Generally, inductees are required to have stepped down from active duty in playing or coaching for at least three years before being considered for induction. However, the selection panel viewed Tietjens' achievements to date as so outstanding that they were willing to overlook that requirement.

Fijian-born Cama fought off stiff competition from compatriot Frank Halai and England's Mat Turner to win the coveted individual accolade. As well as finishing the season with 34 tries, Cama's impeccable drop-kicking helped him to 390 points for the season, the leading mark.

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He becomes the third New Zealand player to win the prize, following Orene Ai'i, Afeleke Pelenise and Forbes.

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- The Dominion Post

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