NZ sevens women getting a taste of Brazil

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014
Gayle Broughton
KEVIN COX/ Getty

HARD RUNNING: Gayle Broughton breaks the tackle of Candian Magali Harvey at the Atlanta sevens event.

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Preparation for the Sao Paulo Sevens today couldn't have been much more different from last week in Atlanta for the New Zealand women's sevens team.

From freezing temperatures, closed roads and training in a hotel ballroom in Atlanta to 31 degrees Celsius with thunderstorms, excited fans learning about a new sport and training at a military base in Brazil, the New Zealand team are well aware of the change in scenery.

Through all the culture shock around their new base, the women have recovered well from last weekend's Atlanta win and are looking to build on their form this weekend in Sao Paulo.

Captain Huriana Manuel said the team have come up well after the tournament in Atlanta, with sore bodies rested and any niggles dealt with.

''The day we got here we got straight into it. We had a training run on a military base, which is totally different to what we're used to, but preparation has been really good,'' Manuel said.

''Our bodies are feeling really good. It's our first back-to-back tournament of the year, and we're really looking forward to it.''

Having had their first taste of international sevens in Atlanta, teenagers Michaela Blyde and Gayle Broughton, as well as Waikato's Jordon Webber, will be looking to kick it up a gear this week.

Broughton's talents in particular were well documented by other teams, and Manuel said it's exciting to play alongside girls with such potential.

After romping  through the finals stage in Atlanta, Manuel is hoping the team can continue that form this weekend, in another tough pool.

England and Ireland have been drawn in the same pool as New Zealand after also playing them in Atlanta, with the United States also in their pool, replacing the Netherlands.

Manuel said the women will have to beat every team to win the tournament, so a tough pool doesn't worry the team.

''It doesn't really matter to us who we play in the pool,'' she said. ''It's going to be tough either way, and the standard of the smaller countries is getting better and better.

''Even against those smaller teams it's hard. It's only going to get harder at the Olympics in 2016.''

This tournament is Brazil's first, and is a big step towards hosting the Rio Olympics.

The New Zealand women have visited a school during the week, teaching students basic rugby skills and drumming up support for sevens rugby.

Media interest in the sport has been huge during the week, and Manuel said it is giving her team an insight into what Rio 2016 could be like.

New Zealand play Ireland and the United States this morning, before taking on England this afternoon.

They currently lead the World Series standings with 38 points, two ahead of Australia

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