NZ Women's Sevens World Cup team unveiled

Getty Images     08 Jun 2013     Getty Images

New Zealand Women's Sevens Head Coach Sean Horan has selected a largely experienced team to compete in the Rugby World Cup 2013 making just one change from the squad he took to Amsterdam last month.

The team is:
Kelly Brazier
Sarah Goss
Vaine Greig
Honey Hireme
Linda Itunu
Huriana Manuel
Kayla McAlister
Tyla Nathan-Wong
Alexis Tapsell
Selica Winiata
Renee Wickliffe
Portia Woodman

Manawatu police officer Selica Winiata comes back from an injury spell just in time to earn a spot in the squad. Meanwhile, Ruby Tui (Canterbury), Shakira Baker (Wellington) and Carla Hohepa (Waikato) were unavailable due to injury.

“I am really excited about this team. We’ve selected a team we think is full of promise for the challenge of this tournament, but also helps keep us on track to achieve our ultimate prize of gold in Rio in 2016.

“We know that we will be competing against the rest of the world in Moscow, and we know that teams throw everything at New Zealand when it comes to rugby. But our preparation over the past two years, has been deliberate and we’re happy that in terms of development, progress is good,” he said.

Canterbury’s Alexis Tapsell and Manawatu’s Vaine Greig swung the World Cup selection door wide open after wedging a foot each in the door at their first IRB Women’s World Series tournament in Amsterdam last month.

“We have chosen our form players, and included some young talent that we need to develop at this level to ensure we have continued growth and strength in our team,” he said.

“I am sure all these girls will want make the most of any opportunity they get to represent the black jersey, and to do so at a Rugby World Cup is also special.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew wished the All Blacks Sevens and New Zealand Women’s Sevens teams all the best in Moscow.
“We are really proud of both teams who have performed so well this year to take out the men’s and women’s World Series titles.

“It’s a huge credit to the players and management group behind each team, particularly New Zealand Women’s Sevens who have really only been together for about a year since the Go4Gold recruitment programme early last year.

“The season has been excellent preparation for the World Cup which is a really important event so we are all hugely excited about seeing both teams in action in what will be a fascinating part of the world to play rugby.”

New Zealand Women’s Sevens World Cup Sevens 2013 team

Kelly Brazier, Otago
At just 23, Brazier holds the national record for most points scored in a game at both and club and provincial level. She has already represented New Zealand in the Black Ferns jersey and her massive ‘step’ and experienced boot helped to steer the Women’s Sevens team to success at the first ever Women’s World Series.

Sarah Goss, Manawatu, vice captain
The 20-year-old former Feilding High School student and competitive shearer from the Manawatu has cemented her place in the team through consistently strong performances. One of the hard grafters in the team, Goss captained the Manawatu Sevens side that took out this year’s National Women’s Sevens title in Queenstown.

Vaine Greig, Manawatu
It’s been a whirlwind ride for the 21-year-old former St Peter’s student whose form has seen her push her way into Sean Horan’s Rugby World Cup squad. She made her debut at the Amsterdam tournament, collecting a World Series title, and a tournament title on the way – an impressive achievement for someone who only took up rugby in 2010.

Honey Hireme, Waikato
Nicknamed Honey Bill Williams, 31-year-old Hireme has had outstanding form in the Women’s Sevens World Series. The proud mother of three, has arguably the best fend in the game, a fantastic offload, and a remarkable ability to see a gap. She is one of three New Zealanders in the top seven World Series try scorers with 13 to her name.

Linda Itunu, Auckland
The ‘Sister’ who gave Prince Charles a sweaty hug, is a powerhouse on defence as evidenced by a youtube clip that went viral, replaying her bone-crunching tackle on Canadian Sevens star Mandy Marchak during this year’s Houston tournament. This is Itunu’s second Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign, and she has already won three Women’s World Cups with the Black Ferns.

Huriana Manuel Auckland, Captain
The former Black Fern and daughter of former Black Fern Liz Mihinui, Manuel has captained the Women’s Sevens side since Sean Horan took the Coaching reins. An integral part of the Go4Gold recruitment and development programme, Manuel’s leadership starts on the field with her organisation in defence and on attack. This is her second Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament and she’ll be hoping to add that title to her two Women’s Rugby World Cup wins with Black Ferns.

Kayla McAlister, Auckland
The Mystics netball convert comes from great rugby stock, and like her brother former All Black Luke, Kayla McAlister has a mean step and pace that has seen her run up 16 tries during the World Series – the third highest for the IRB’s inaugural competition. She only took up rugby in the last year.

Tyla Nathan-Wong, Auckland
Playmaker and sweep Nathan-Wong is a natural athlete. The 18-year-old former Linfield High School student was the youngest to ever be selected to the New Zealand Women’s Sevens team last year. She has already represented New Zealand in Touch Rugby.

Alexis Tapsell, Canterbury
A former New Zealand touch rep, Alexis has impressed since she burst onto the scene at during the Canterbury regional sevens tournament last year. The relative newcomer debuted in Amsterdam last month and is now set to take on the world with the rest of the New Zealand Women’s Sevens team.

Selica Winiata, Manawatu
One of three to represent the mighty Manawatu, don’t let Winiata’s tiny frame fool you – her fend and ability to run strong through tackles ensured she earned a spot in Sean Horan’s World Cup side. A regular member of the often successful Aotearoa Sevens team, the police officer has come back from injury in time to make the World Cup campaign.

Renee Wickliffe, Counties Manukau
Another player heading into her second Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign, the recent Black Ferns winger Wickliffe also has a Women’s Rugby World Cup to her belt. Wickliffe is a great ball player who knows how to create opportunities.

Portia Woodman, Auckland
The IRB’s all-time and season top try and points scorer, this former Mystics netballer has a pace few have been able to match on the field. She has wowed many during the Series with her incredible standing start speed and ability to flatfoot defence. That’s no surprise given she comes from great rugby stock – her father Kawhena Woodman and her uncle Fred Woodman were both All Blacks in the early 1980s.