Rugby India captain Nasser Hussain considers Commonwealth Games as the real test of the team's mettle and feels the hosts need to fire on all cylinders to overpower their more fancied rivals.
The Indian team, announced yesterday, is high on confidence after recent triumphs in Istanbul (Istanbul 7s) and England (Bee's International 7s) against some of the best clubs in Europe, Middle East and Asia. The tour to New Zealand, in the build-up to the October 3-14 event, was also a learning experience for the Indians.
The team acquired in-depth knowledge about the game and identified its strengths and weaknesses and Nasser said the tour helped the side understand the nuances of the sport from the best in the business.
"England and New Zealand exposure trips have helped us a lot in preparing for the Commonwealth Games. We are now competing like a team and our game has also improved. We know the level is going to be high at the Games but we are ready for the challenges ahead," Hussain said.
"The top 10 rugby teams of the world are from Commonwealth countries. So the field is really going to be strong. We are looking for some great rugby action in front of the home crowd.
"Commonwealth Games is a real test of our mental and physical fitness. We will put forward a combined team effort to emerge victorious. We are no longer pushovers.
Players have worked hard on their skills, and trained with the best in the business. We hope to give some tough challenge to our fancied rivals," Hussain added.
Grouped with Wales, South Africa and Tonga, the Indian ruggers have little chance to go beyond the preliminary league round, but they nonetheless, are looking to give the best teams in the business a run for their money in front of home crowd.
"We will go into the tournament as underdogs. The Games will bring the best out of all of us. Teams like New Zealand, South Africa, England and others have superior understanding of the game and that shows in their rankings. We all know as a team that there is still a long way to go for us. But we are looking forward to test ourselves against the best in the world. Who knows we might cause an upset or two," said Hussain.