World champ Black Ferns Sevens ready for new season

By James Perry, Tamati Tiananga

The Black Ferns Sevens team are refreshed and refocused for a new year. 

Following their World Cup win in San Francisco in July the squad were given six weeks rest and began training again around four weeks ago.

Star player Portia Woodman says, "The body's still getting back into the feel of running and all that sort of stuff, but it's all really exciting."

The team have been at their base in Tauranga enduring a tough pre-season ahead of their first tournament of the new season next weekend. 

Ruby Tui says, "They're just throwing everything at us and hey, it's what you need at the beginning of the season."

Tui "can't wait" to get stuck into the tournament in Colorado.

The 2019 edition of the Women's Rugby Sevens Series will again have six tournaments, with Glendale, Colorado hosting the tournament for the first time. 

With 2018 seeing the New Zealand side win gold at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April, as well as the World Cup in San Francisco, coach Allan Bunting doesn't want his side to rest on their laurels, saying the new season means every team is back on an even level. 

"Certainly had a good year last year but I think that makes us a little bit more vulnerable, so certainly don't want complacency to set in and we're really focusing on doing really well in every game," he says.

Tui agrees, "You're only as good as the game you're playing right now and we're not playing a game yet.  So it'll be put to the test as soon as that first whistle goes.  I'm really looking forward to it and nah, we're not taking anything for granted.  We've got to go out there all guns blazing."

With only two weeks to go until kick-off in the USA, Bunting says, "Preparations probably [are] not as long as we wanted, but we're certainly on track and getting to where we need to go." 

Australia won the 2018 edition of the Sevens series, by a narrow margin of two points.

The women's series will move from Glendale to Dubai at the end of November, and will also see the Black Ferns play tournaments in Sydney, Kitakyushu (Japan), Langford (Canada), and Paris.

The series also doubles a a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.