NEW Zealand has emerged a real contender for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) Sevens title following its 11th International Rugby Board (IRB) 7s World Series win over the weekend.
The All Blacks 7s lost in the Cup final of the Scotland 7s to South Africa 21-28 but clinched the 2012/13 HSBC IRB 7s World Series title with London 7s still to go this weekend.
And Fiji 7s selector Sailosi Naiteqe Sr said New Zealand's consistency in the past two series set them the favourites for the world cup title.
"If you look at New Zealand's performance in the past series and this one, they have been in the semis and finals in most of the tournaments," he said.
"They got a good mix of young and experienced players in their team.
"In consistency wise, New Zealand looks a good candidate for the world cup title."
After winning the 2012/13 7s series, New Zealand mentor Gordon Tietjens said their target was now the RWC 7s which would be held in June in Russia.
"It means a lot, we set two targets at the beginning of the season, to win the World Series, and the World Cup," the master tactician told the irb.com.
"We've had a lot of new players and I am pleased for them. To win with one round to go too is extra pleasing.
"A lot of credit goes to the team, they've committed a lot and it's an awesome feeling. We had nine new players in Hong Kong and we are building a depth which is now required on this World Series."
South Africa coach Paul Treu said: "I think looking back at the season we had our highs and our lows, but it is just good for us to come back and finish the season on a high.
"We are almost going to be the only team to win three tournaments up and until now. "We had some bad moments, but those bad moments were needed to make up for our results towards the end of the season and to give credit to our guys and those back home for having the faith and the belief in the team that we could stay the distance."