All Blacks Sevens reaping benefits of new centralised program ahead of World Cup

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1 NEWS

No balls, no boots, no coaches, just mates.

The men's sevens program is making major gains away from the field with contracted players now centralised in Mt Maunganui.
Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's men's sevens team is reaping the benefits of the drastic changes made following the disappointing outing at the Rio Olympics two years ago.

Contracted players in the All Blacks Sevens program are now centralised for nine months in Mount Maunganui.

The program had previously pulled players in from around the country for short camps.

“I suppose we found that prior to the Comm Games, we probably got to know each other a bit better than other teams probably would, and you know (that) benefited us,” Kurt Baker said.

This year's Commonwealth Games gold was proof the men are closing the gap on teams that've been centralised for years.

New Zealand is still the most successful sevens team in history, but after five dismal years, it was clear the game had evolved while the All Blacks sevens did not.

“I spent the first five odd years by myself off down in Christchurch training, I guess it was pretty hard to personally improve my rugby because obviously being the only one down there,” Sam Dickson said.

"That was a bit annoying to come here and then get straight off the plane and have to do a old fashioned beep test and a phosphate test with Tietj - so don't miss doing that.”

For a boy from Christchurch there could be worse things than moving to the high tech facilities in Mount Maunganui.

The package also includes quality training facilities which are all located at Blake Park, but players say it's the bonds and friendships that are key.

“I think we're creating an environment now that people want to be a part of. And you know it might take time but we're on the right track anyway,” Baker said.

They reckon they've got the right recipe for success ahead of the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco next week.

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