NZ side vow to be better at Hong Kong Sevens

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014
Bryce Heem
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MUST STEP UP: New Zealand player Bryce Heem in action in Tokyo.

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Fourth place at the Tokyo Sevens was a disappointing result for the New Zealand Sevens team, but Bryce Heem says the team will kick up a gear this weekend in Hong Kong.

The team enjoyed a day off on Tuesday, taking in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong, but was back to work yesterday to improve its game.

Heem said there are plenty of things to work on after Japan, and the team is eager to make amends for its "disappointing" efforts in finishing fourth.

"I think in Tokyo we got caught honey puddling around the ruck a wee bit, guys chasing in too far and leaving too much space in our D line," Heem said.

"We've worked on tightening up our defence, and also some variations on attack when people shoot up from the line, stuff like that."

New Zealand progressed through to the semifinals in Tokyo where they lost to Fiji, before losing to England in the third-fourth playoff.

Hong Kong is traditionally a strong tournament for the Fijian's, and Heem said it is always a struggle preparing to face their island foes.

"You never know how to prepare with Fiji," he said. "In Tokyo, for instance, they lost to the United States, and then they played really well against us.

"We just expect them to play well when they come up against us.

"We've lost to them three times now this year, and they're always strong in Hong Kong, so we're coming in really wanting to stop them beating us again, and that will set us up well for the whole tournament."

Heem said he was impressed with new cap Marty McKenzie in Tokyo, having been thrown into the mix as New Zealand's chief playmaker when Gillies Kaka got injured.

He said it was a tough start to life in international sevens for McKenzie, but he played well.

"It's always a big step up from the nationals to World Series sevens, but I think he did well, especially given the circumstances.

"He was really chucked in the deep end when Gillies went out injured, and it was a sink or swim situation, but he did well."

New Zealand will play Scotland on Friday night, before matches against the United States and Samoa in their pool on Saturday, before finals on Sunday.

Fiji have won the past two Hong Kong Sevens tournaments, with New Zealand last winning in 2011. 

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- Fairfax Media

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