GLASGOW: The all-conquering All Blacks fear no one as they set their sights on a high five in the rugby Sevens competition of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The Kiwis are gunning for a record fifth consecutive gold at the Games since the sport was introduced at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games.
They are clearly the team to beat, having won 12 of the 15 IRB Sevens World Series since 2000.
No wonder the All Blacks say “we fear only ourselves” as they prepare for the Games competition at the Ibrox Stadium on July 26-27.
“We have been training throughout the year … and been featuring in the Sevens World Series since the beginning of the year,” said winger Tim Mikkelson, who has represented the All Blacks Sevens since 2008.
“Our only concern is how well we can perform at the Games. Our chances of retaining the gold will depend on our team work.”
Mikkelson, who will turn 28 on Aug 13, is one of the world’s best Sevens player. He has scored over 100 career tries for New Zealand in the Sevens World Series.
Mikkelson, who plays for Waikato club in New Zealand, even won the IRB Sevens Player of the Year award for the 2012 season.
There will be 16 teams in action at the Games and New Zealand are in Group A with Canada, Barbados and Scotland.
Group B comprises South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya and Cook Islands.
Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Wales and Malaysia are in Group C while Australia, England, Uganda and Sri Lanka make up Group D.
Besides Mikkelson, the All Blacks team are packed with experienced players as well – like captain DJ Forbes and Sherwin Stowers from the team who overcame Australia in the New Delhi Games four years ago.
Mikkelson does not expect the All Blacks to have any problems in the group stage.
Instead, he has warned his team-mates to be wary of Australia and South Africa, who will pose a huge threat to them in the knockout stages.
“I hope we can continue our winning streak in the Games,” said Mikkelson.