The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads for the Dubai Sevens have been named.
The All Blacks Sevens will be looking to bounce back from a ninth place finish in their season opener in Hong Kong last month, while Dubai is the first hit for the Black Ferns Sevens as both teams work towards Olympic qualification.
The All Blacks Sevens team is:
2. Brady Rush
3. Ton Ng Shiu
4. Akuila Rokolisoa
7. Sam Dickson (C)
9. Amanaki Nicole
10. Kurt Baker
11. Joe Webber
12. Leroy Carter
13. Moses Leon
21. Che Clark
23. Lewis Ormond
49. Caleb Tangitau
64. Regan Ware
Not available for selection: Kitiona Vai, Andrew Knewstubb, Tim Mikkelson, Sione Molia (injury), Dylan Collier, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (parental leave)
The All Blacks Sevens welcome the return of young star Che Clark and Lewis Ormond from injury and aim to improve on Hong Kong’s performance.
“We had two weeks to review Hong Kong and see where we went wrong and the coaches came up with a good plan,” captain Sam Dickson said.
“We started slow in Hong Kong. We weren’t direct enough and there were silly little things that probably came from not playing for a while. We were happy with how we finished, in our three games on the third day we were a lot more direct and physical , and that’s been our approach all the way to Dubai.”
Qualified for Group B in Dubai, the team will face Argentina, Fiji and Uruguay in another tough task.
“Most of the pools these days are quite cut, with Argentina and Fiji first, it’s a great test for our group. We’ve had two weeks of hard and physical training for this, so we’re ready and can’t wait for our first game against Argentina,” said Dickson.
The Black Ferns Sevens team is:
4. Niall Williams
6. Michaela Blyde
7. Tyla Nathan-Wong (C)
8. Kelly Brazier
13. Jazmin Felix-Hotham (VC)
14. Terina Te Tamaki
18. Kelsey Teneti – debut
22. Shiray Kaka
26. Tysha Ikenasio – debut
33. Manaia Nuku – debut
77. Risaleana Pouri-Lane (VC)
81. Mahina Paul
83. Jorja Miller
Not available for selection: Sarah Hirini, Portia Woodman, Stacey Fluhler, Ruby Tui, Theresa Fitzpatrick (Black Ferns), Alena Saili (injury).
The Black Ferns Sevens will be led by Tyla Nathan-Wong, who was captain when they were last in Dubai in 2019, and have three debutants in their ranks.
Auckland’s Tysha Ikenasio and Waikato’s Kelsey Teneti and Manaia Nuku are set to make their Black Ferns Sevens debuts, while Canterbury youngster Jorja Miller will play her first World Series tournament after making her Rugby World Cup debut Seven in September.
“We’ve got young girls who haven’t been to the World Series before, so the key is not to put any pressure on it, it’s to go out there, have fun, play rugby and that’s when we’re at our best.” said Nathan-Wong.
Also in Group B this weekend, the Black Ferns Sevens will face Great Britain, Brazil and France.
“It’s straight into it for us – we can’t get bogged down! We know Great Britain have had a long pre-season bringing these three countries together so it’s going to be a big challenge for us first. But we love that, it’s going to be a good test to see where we stand as a team.
Dubai Sevens Draw (dates/times listed in NZDT)
Friday December 2
18:44 Black Ferns Sevens v Great Britain
19:50 All Blacks Sevens – Argentina
22:49 Black Ferns Sevens v Brazil
11.11pm: All Blacks Sevens v Fiji
Saturday December 3
2:44am Black Ferns Sevens v France
4.34am All Blacks Sevens v Uruguay
Sunday, December 4
– New Zealand Rugby