New Zealand’s veteran sevens playmaker Tomasi Cama has fought off a back injury to be ready for the World Cup opener in Moscow tonight.
Cama threw a scare through the Kiwi camp with his struggles earlier in the week but coach Gordon Tietjens declared the experienced player would be right for the mix tonight against Canada (kick-off 11.44pm, NZ time).
“We had one little scare during the week with Tomasi and a little back injury but he came through with flying colours,” Tietjens said as the team wrapped up training in demanding conditions.
While New Zealand will be red-hot favourites to beat Canada, Tietjens was in a respectful mood, mindful of New Zealand’s World Cup failings in the past.
“They are very good rugby players,” the coach said.
“We have played them twice – London and Tokyo – both close games, and I expect nothing different.
“To win this tournament you have to have six good games and hopefully we can get through the games without having to battle injuries and other concerns.’
“I’m always apprehensive going into a tournament, but I never look too far ahead. Hopefully collectively every one of the players will make it a real challenge for me to put a top side on the park.
“And I want that competitiveness in the side and they all have a great attitude… attitudes are a huge ingredient.”
That point was brought home when Karl Te Nana, a member of the team that lifted New Zealand’s only World Cup in 2001 in Argentina, presented the squad with their jerseys.
“Karl passed on a little bit of knowledge of what to expect at a Rugby World Cup and that’s great for the younger players,” Tietjens said.
“Until you start playing for a Rugby World Cup you don’t know what pressure is all about.
“I remember Dubai four years ago when we lost that crucial quarter final and it’s still in the back of my mind. We want to turn that around and start this tournament really well and put a lot of confidence in the team.”
The World Cup marks a big year for one of the younger players, Canterbury forward Sam Dickson who made the side for the first time last year.
– © Fairfax NZ News