USA Sevens aiming to hit the jackpot in vital Las Vegas leg

Perry Baker broke the United States World Rugby Sevens Series try-scoring record during the last round of action in Hamilton, New Zealand. MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images

This is a massively important time for rugby in the United States with the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series taking place in Las Vegas this weekend, and we have our eyes firmly set on lifting the trophy in front of our fans.

As part of the build-up to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco this July, there is some exciting news that will be announced on Friday. But for all of us involved in the USA Sevens squad it is about believing in ourselves and proving people wrong, including the doubters who do not think we are a top team.

A lot of guys in our squad moved to San Diego and left families behind to commit to the Sevens programme. When we put those U.S. jerseys on there is a lot of pride and dedication to the cause.

I was deeply honoured to become the U.S.' all-time leading try scorer in the World Series during the Hamilton tournament but now we are on to the next challenge in what is the fifth leg of 10 and we have been steadily improving. Playing at home in front of our families and fans is huge and last year we got onto the podium. This time, however, we want to win what really is an exciting tournament.

Everyone is going to be watching to see how the U.S. team does and that means there is a lot riding on the Vegas leg for us.

With the World Cup on home turf, if we play well this weekend, hopefully, it will generate even more interest and more people will come to the July event. For fans new to Sevens it doesn't take long to pick up what is going on.

When I tell people I play rugby they often ask about the 15-man game and know about the scrums, lineouts and the contact stuff. I tell them that we have lots of space in Sevens and we try and get the ball out as quickly as possible to score tries.

In preparation for Vegas, our coaching staff gave us a couple of days off to get the jet lag out of our legs after the flight from New Zealand and then we started a bit of lifting and we were trusted to follow a training programme during the week we had off.

One of the key areas in our preparation has been our defence and that is an area we feel we need to get better in. We are happy with the work we have done and believe that come Friday we will be ready to start moving up the standings -- everyone knows that we carry a lot of try-scoring threats.

What makes this series so exciting is that on their day any team can win, no one can be counted out and if you take teams lightly then you go down. There was some brilliant handling during the Hamilton leg and it was exciting to watch for both the players and the fans.

Fiji are phenomenal with the ball and you just have to keep watching because you know something special will happen. This run of the series; Las Vegas, Vancouver and Hong Kong is really important to get us into the shape we want to be in for the World Cup because we started so slowly [the U.S. are currently seventh after four rounds].

That means there is an awful lot riding on this period and we really want to get things going as we are in a pool with Australia -- who won in Sydney in January -- Samoa and Spain.

Australia arrive in Vegas feeling good and ready to play some good Sevens while Samoa [ninth] have bounced back from a tough time last season. It really is an exciting pool.