NO EXCUSES: NZ Sevens boss Gordon Tietjens

When it was confirmed in 2009 that Sevens would be making an Olympics debut in Rio, it would have been reasonable to assume that New Zealand were likely to bring home a couple more gold medals from Brazil.

Back then, the men’s and women’s teams in the famous black shirts exerted a dominance over the shorter format of the game even more pronounced than that of the 15-a-side team in Test rugby.

While the women fell just short of their target  with defeat to Australia in the final, however, the men were nothing of short of disaster.

New Zealand’s men have won the famous Hong Kong Sevens 10 times, the Commonwealth Games four out of five times and their 12 titles in the World Series are nine more than the next most successful nation.

That nation is Fiji, however, and it was the reigning world champions who knocked the All Blacks out of Rio 12-7 in the quarters on Wednesday.

Ravaged by injuries and beaten by Japan for the first time, New Zealand were only a missed conversion attempt by United States captain Madison Hughes away from making an embarrassing pool stage exit earlier on Wednesday.

Coach Gordon Tietjens explains: “It’s been an up and down tournament for us in terms of consistency.

“It’s obviously disappointing but it went right down to the wire. We’re not looking for excuses. Fiji deservedly beat us.

“We lost key players in Joe Webber and Sonny Bill Williams and then captain Scott Curry. We had nine players for that game.”

Meanwhile, the All Blacks have called up uncapped Chiefs midfield back Anton Lienert-Brown to their squad for the Rugby Championship to replace the injured Williams.

The 21-year-old Chiefs star had been brought into the All Blacks camp by Steve Hansen last week to train with the squad.

And his ability to play both midfield positions had earned him the nod ahead of Chiefs teammate Seta Tamanivalu, who is a specialist centre.

Tamanivalu played two tests in the June series against Wales.