|Thursday, 4 December 2003|
Kiwis ready to retain Dubai Sevens title
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday
New Zealand despite the withdrawal of legendary Eric Rush due to a calf injury will go all out to retain the Emirates Trophy for the fifth successive year when the Dubai International Rugby Sevens kicks off at the Dubai Exiles Rugby grounds here tomorrow.
Despite the absence of Eric Rush the New Zealanders will have the services of experienced campaigners of the calibre of Karl Tenana, Amasio Valence, Brad Fleming and Justin Wilson who are likely to give off their best and help New Zealand to make it five in a row.
Incidentally Justin Wilson scored a hat-trick of tries in the 2001 Dubai Sevens final against South Africa.
New Zealand's coach Gordon Tietjens said "we will certainly feel Rush's absence but we have some superb players who have the power and speed to steer All Blacks to victory.
But New Zealand will face a strong challenge from current world champions England who won the Hong Kong Sevens and the London Sevens. England are the most improved rugby team in the world during the last two years. England's coach Joe Lydon said that they have improved by leaps and bounds. New Zealand without doubt is the team to beat to clinch the Dubai Sevens we need to beat New Zealand."
Australia, South Africa and Samoa are the other teams which are capable of ending All Blacks dominance of Dubai Sevens.
The Australian team led by Queenslander Paul Warwick is a blend of youth and experience and are determined to give off their best.
They have been strengthened by the inclusion of Wallaby winger Scott Staniforth, NSW's Luke Inman and Queensland's Gene Fairbanks.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka which has been drawn into Group 'A' will play against European champions France in the first match followed by the other two matches against current world champions England and Morocco on Thursday.
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