Beach Blacks Sam O'Dea and Brad Fuller are a potent mix of experience and potential heading into the Birmingham Games.
O'Dea already has a bronze medal in the cabinet from the 2018 Gold Coast Games and is looking for another, coloured gold, in Birmingham. The games follow a successful New Zealand summer and time on the Asian and European World Tour circuit, winning the Italian Futures event in Giardini Naxos in early July.
"That was a crazy one, in every tournament you could come 20th, or you could come first, there's not much of a difference. Coming back from heat exhaustion in the early rounds to win it was awesome," said Sam O'Dea.
In their time on the World Tour, O'Dea and Fuller have put plenty of thinking into their styles and developing a strong partnership on the court.
"We've had a pretty clear picture of what kind of team we want to be, our strengths together and what we wanted to work on since we started - because we haven't played together so long, that picture really helped, and having our coach Jason Lochhead to guide us has been really cool too."
"I always knew Brad was very talented athletically, he's a really quick learner. We're pretty similar personality-wise, we can both be on the quiet side, which is something we both want to be conscious of in case the energy goes flat, he's been really open to learning, it's been really good, he's been awesome, picking things up and working hard," said Sam O'Dea.
"We're very similar in a lot of ways, quite relaxed and level headed people. In terms of experience, Sam has a lot to draw from, so he definitely helps me in that regard," said Brad Fuller.
"I like to be the one that cheers loud for most points. But every now and then Sam pipes up and that's when you know that he's into it! But we get along really well and we're talking all the time between points, just constantly thinking about what we can do to improve."
Having been on the road since the New Zealand summer, the Beach Blacks have had a good look at their Games rivals ahead of the tournament.
"The preparation has been great, going overseas I wasn't really sure what to expect, but we've had a chance to see who we're going to be up against in some of the bigger games, and we've actually played the teams in our pool twice, so that's definitely been handy. It's going to be a new experience for me being part of the NZ team, with more sporting codes along, it's very exciting, said Brad Fuller.
"Now we're getting closer the the Games, we're looking at our competition and what we can do to meet the challenge - obviously Canada, Australia, England will be tough, but there are a lot of tier two countries that have come up since the Gold Coast to watch out for," said Sam O'Dea.