Lure of Rio Olympics fires up NZ captain Forbes

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:01 29/11/2013
DJ Forbes
Getty Images
DJ FORBES: "I'm the closest I've been to injury-free and that's a bonus."

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Veteran New Zealand Sevens captain DJ Forbes believes he has the fitness and drive to push for the Rio Olympics.

Forbes is in Dubai with his champion team, attempting to take out the second tournament of the latest world series after winning the season-opener in Australia last month.

A cornerstone of the standard-setting squad since 2006, Forbes is desperate to add Olympics glory to his bulging sevens resume.

By the time the next Games roll around in Brazil for sevens' introduction to the world's biggest sporting stage he will be 34.

Having claimed another world series last season and followed that up with a World Cup title, the temptation was there for Forbes to bow out on top. But he believes he has more in him and Olympics gold in 2016 is the lure.

"I'm the closest I've been to injury-free and that's a bonus," Forbes said.

"I guess now with the Olympics I've got a new drive, a new motivation and if I can keep trucking along hopefully I'm in the frame.

"I feel I have a lot of rugby in me, but with a bunch of boys like this it's going to be hard to hold my spot so I've got to try and do my job week-in, week-out."

Master coach Gordon Tietjens values experience as much as the never ending supply of fresh talent he unearths for each campaign. But his loyalty to Forbes will certainly be tested as time ticks on.

Expectation is nothing new to Forbes and he thrives on the associated pressure.

He says his team has a heap of that on their shoulders as they look to end a drought that stretches back to 2009. But they enter this year's contest on the back of tournament wins in London, the World Cup in Moscow, and the Gold Coast.

"We have to keep on top of that flow we have got, hopefully we can keep it going," Forbes said.

"On paper, it's an awesome side. Guys who have been in finals footy, Comm Games, world cups ... there's a massive amount of experience but in saying that, there's a massive expectation that comes with it.

"But it's all on the day and we could have a team of stars but a star team will beat anyone, so we've got to put it together, seven minutes at a time."

Gillies Kaka, one of the form players of last season and the player of the tournament at the World Cup in Russia, has returned from injury. Bryce Heem is also back after a strong provincial season and Sherwin Stowers takes his place, having pulled out at the last minute in Australia through injury.

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New Zealand open their account against France today (6.44pm, NZ time), followed by Portugal and Kenya to round out their pool play.

The New Zealand women's team opened the defence of their world series crown in Dubai overnight.

- Fairfax Media

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