Tietjens says players short of game time
Sunday 3 Feb 2013 7:48 p.m.
Coach Gordon Tietjens will review how New Zealand prepare for future Wellington sevens rugby tournaments after they failed to reach the final for the first time in three years.
A shock loss to England in pool play was followed by a more famous upset in the semi-finals on Saturday when Kenya pipped the hosts by the same 19-14 scoreline in extra time.
The defending champions bounced back to beat Samoa in the third-place playoff to stretch their lead after four rounds of the International Rugby Board series to 21 points.
However, it did little to cheer veteran coach Tietjens, who wanted a second shot at eventual champions England in the final.
"You've got to take it on the chin. Those young players will learn from this as well because they are hurting," he told reporters.
"I suppose we've done a lot better than some of the other top teams, we've increased our lead in the world series."
Tietjens says an explanation for his team's rusty efforts was the two-month hiatus since they won the previous tournament in South Africa.
Few of his players had played since then, unlike other nations who had attended a number of second-tier events.
"A lot of the players, the core players, weren't playing in any tournaments.
"They didn't play in the nationals, they didn't play in the provincials so went from South Africa to here really," Tietjens said.
"You need to be playing this game to be good at it. Perhaps next year we'll look at going to a tournament prior to coming to Wellington."
The New Zealand Rugby Union has promised full-time sevens contracts for players ahead of the 2016 Olympics, where the truncated version of rugby will make its Games debut.
Such contracts would keep key players focused during some of the lengthy breaks between IRB tournaments, said Tietjens, who hoped they would be introduced this year.
There is just a week's break before the fifth leg of the nine-pronged series is played in Las Vegas.
Tietjens has had to make two changes to his squad, with skipper DJ Forbes and Kurt Baker picking up knee and hamstring injuries respectively.
The pair have been replaced by Cantabrian Mark Jackman and Auckland's Milford Keresoma, who were themselves unavailable for selection for Wellington because of injury.