Stakes will be raised at next month’s Hamilton Sevens, with a new format leaving little room for error in pool play.
The January 25-26 tournament will see the All Blacks and Black Ferns compete in front of home fans for the first time in a world series event.
But with quarter-finals dropped from the schedule, only the winners from the four men’s pools will advance straight to the semi-finals.
Winners of the three women’s pools will be joined by the best second-placed team in the final four.
The news was confirmed after the official draw for the tournament was conducted.
Currently leading the men’s series, the All Blacks will face Wales, USA and Scotland in their pool.
“With this new format, every game counts, so every team has to hit the ground running on day one,” head coach Clark Laidlaw said.