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Singapore 7s returns alongside headline acts Fiji and New Zealand

After two years of COVID cancellations, the World Series Sevens will make its return to Singapore and with it two of the best teams in the world, Fiji and New Zealand, will make their first appearance in 2022.

Forced to cancel the tournament in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Singapore 7s was again missed in 2021 when the World Series was only able to hold two tournaments in Canada. This year's series has so far taken place in Dubai and Spain, and will now return to Singapore National Stadium where it's expected thousands of fans will flood the stands.

Considered one of the most exciting venues on the circuit, the Singapore tournament is one of the most loved fixtures for both players and fans and features an atmosphere that can't be matched anywhere else.

"I think it's fantastic it's back," former Canada sevens player Nathan Hirayama told ESPN. "I think it's a spot on this series that was really missed by the players.

"I know that stop in Asia is always one that's circled in red for us in the Canadian contingent, it was always something we really looked forward to, getting over there and playing. What a fantastic tournament, what a fantastic venue.

"It's a beautiful ground, it's one of the firmer grounds to play on, which makes it one of the faster grounds, so it's good for expansive rugby and it's great for the game of sevens. Not to mention just coming to Singapore, the people are amazing, so it's one that all the players in the whole World Series look forward to.

"For players the atmosphere is everything. You try to block it out, you say you're not distracted and you're not taking it in, but that energy, it's hard not to feel it when you're in the tunnel, especially running out in front of a crowd like that. It's definitely a huge plus and something that Singapore always brings."

The return of New Zealand and Fiji adds another layer of excitement for the Singapore 7s. Unable to compete in the four opening World Series tournaments this season, the return of the 2020 Olympics gold and silver medalists is a huge boost for the Series as they look to shake off the pandemic's effects.

"It's awesome that they'll [Fiji and New Zealand] be back on the series as well as Samoa. Obviously when you're talking about New Zealand and Fiji in rugby sevens, you're talking about a couple of the best teams in the world. It's exciting to see how they go.

"What I expect and what everyone expects is world class rugby from those two sides, it'll be great to watch and the other teams will have to be on their best to take them. It'll be quite the spectacle.

"You have to play your best to beat those teams. You need the right preparations and you almost have to play the perfect game. They're fantastic athletes, a lot of size, a lot of speed, a great rugby IQ and it's fun to compete against teams like that, you always want to compete against the best, and I think it's just a huge boost for the whole series having them back."

According to Hirayama fans should watch for more than just New Zealand and Fiji to bring the X-factor though, with teams like Argentina, Australia and Samoa also playing an exciting brand of rugby.

"Besides Canada, I really like the way the Argies [Argentina] are playing this season and in the last few season," Hirayama told ESPN. "I think they're a really exciting team to watch, they've got a lot of young talent in that side with some old heads in there steering the ship.

"I'm curious to see how Samoa come in after having missed a couple tournaments. I think the Aussies are playing really well as well, I think they have a lot of good young talent in there too. There's so many teams to watch, they're all looking exciting and there's a lot of new faces, exciting to see the new talent come through and see the depth, so I'm looking forward to watching this weekend."

Kicking off on Saturday April 9, Hirayama believes there's no excuse for fans not to return to the stands and bring the party back to the Singapore 7s.

"I'd say definitely go down. I can't think of a more high speed, enjoyable sport to watch. Even if you're not a rugby fan, it's a great watch and I think I think there's going to be some exciting rugby this weekend in Singapore so I would say definitely check it out."