Horan relishing Moscow challenge

(IRB.COM) Monday 24 June 2013  
  Horan relishing Moscow challenge
New Zealand and head coach Sean Horan are looking to go one better in Moscow than four years ago

After putting his New Zealand side through its paces in a first training session in Moscow this week, World Series-winning head coach Sean Horan reflected on the 'huge opportunity' given to this current crop of players.

“Where would you rather be on a Monday?” he asked. “Here we are in Moscow in the sun and doing what we love doing. There are so many people who would love to be here and we have to always remember that.

"This is a great rugby experience but it’s about more than that. We went for a walk in Moscow last night and it’s just a fascinating place – a great place to play some rugby.”

Despite winning the first ever IRB Women’s World Series recently, Horan insists that his players have their eyes fixed on the longer term and building towards the 2016 Olympics.

“The Series was great and we enjoyed it. This is something different. It’s a pinnacle event and for the women there isn’t another isolated event like this until the Olympics so it’s a great testing ground," he said.

"It would be nice to cap off an enjoyable season for us to do well here but we are all about growing towards to the Olympics. That has always been our focus.”

Everybody's Cup final

Coming from New Zealand's winter to the sunny Russian summer has also taken some adjustment.

"Our key job over the first few days here is to get the bodies and the minds fresh to play the way we want to. It’s warm here but we expected it and it just takes a bit of getting used to," added Horan, whose side faces a tough pool with games against Canada, Netherlands and Tunisia on Saturday.

“Every team brings their A-game against the black jersey and our girls are starting to learn that.

"No game is a given in Sevens and I think you could feasibly say that seven or eight teams are in with a chance of winning this weekend. The game has developed hugely, so much so that it is like a completely different sport now.

"Back then [in 2009] you had a few dominant sides with players largely coming from the 15s game, with a limited preparation. It was still a great even but it’s a different ball game now. For us that is incredibly exciting to be part of."