The Canadian 7s team heads into this weekend's Pan American Games tournament with a sense of the unknown, due to a short playing history against some of its Pool B opponents.
While Canada and the USA are familiar foe, Geraint John admits his side must focus on its own abilities when facing all opponents, particularly Chile and Brazil.
"We're preparing for all three opponents as well as we can," John said. "We're not taking anything for granted. Against Chile and Brazil we have to make sure we do what we're good at. We're concentrating on what we're doing, rather than the opposition.
"Chile and Brazil are a bit of unknowns to us because they're not on the circuit, so we can't take them lightly."
Canada heads into the tournament on the back of the 2010-11 IRB sevens circuit with a bowl win in Hong Kong and shield win in Scotland.
Canada and their opponents directly to the south met twice on the 2010-11 circuit, trading results.
The States got the upper hand in the shield semifinals, 31-7, over Canada. While Canada claimed a 19-15 in the shield quarter-finals in Las Vegas.
"We play the USA on Saturday and could potentially play them in the semifinal, so I think we'll be taking a close look at each other on Saturday," John said. "But we still have to focus on Chile and Brazil.”
The South American nations are clearly taking a determined approach to the tournament, with Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay recently involved in a tournament together.
Brazil recently placed third in the 2011 South American Sevens and will be looking to prove themselves to the world, as they prepare to host sevens rugby during the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Brazilian team is considered a strong nation in its region and finished 10th in the 2009 sevens World Cup in Dubai.
Canada's last encounter with Chile was at the San Diego sevens in 2007, where the men from the Great White North lost 19-17.
Chile has spent some time on the IRB circuit, where they were runners up to Australia in the shield final in 2008.
Despite the unknown element surrounding his team's South American opponents, John has told his squad how important it is to treat each game like the final.
"We can't afford to take anyone lightly," he said. "Everyone's been preparing for this tournament and is taking it seriously."
They must also take serious the crossover from 15s to 7s. Eight of the 12 Canada players were just in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Switching from a 15s mindset to 7s isn’t easy.
"All the guys who came in from the World Cup have sevens experience and they all have leadership roles," said 7s impresario Phil Mack. "They've been in basically a professional rugby environment for nine weeks and you can really see them bring that to the tournament. It's been a pretty seamless transition."
Mack believes their time together in any environment helps team cohesion.
"The squad is working well," Mack said. "There's a lot of communication on the field, which is extremely important in sevens. The guys from the Rugby World Cup squad are all extremely polished after being at the tournament."
And third on the list – the heat and altitude. Temperatures are expected to be in the 80s and sunny this weekend, and the sun has been out all week, while there’s of course no change in altitude – Guadalajara is about a mile above sea level.
"Having the support staff here is a great help because it's allowing everyone to help prepare the players," John said. "We also want to thank Macquarie Financial and the Canadian Rugby Foundation for their continued support."