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New look Black Ferns Sevens squad named for Canada tournament

Sean Willis

allblacks.com     18 May 2017     Sean Willis

Five players, including Captain Sarah Goss and World Series all-time top try scorer Portia Woodman, are unavailable for the remaining tournaments in Canada and France due to selection for the Black Ferns team to play in June’s International Women’s Rugby Series in New Zealand against England, Australia and Canada. Theresa Fitzpatrick has been released by the Black Ferns to support the Sevens team with injury cover. She will re-join the Black Ferns after the Langford tournament. 

The team is (* indicates new cap)
Tyla Nathan-Wong(Captain) - Auckland
Shakira Baker - Waikato
Michaela Blyde - Bay of Plenty
Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga - Manawatu
Jess Drummond - Tasman
Theresa Fitzpatrick - Auckland
Crystal Mayes - Manawatu
Cheyelle Robins-Reti - Waikato
Alena Saili - Southland
Ruby Tui - Canterbury
Katarina Whata-Simpkins - Wellington
Niall Williams - Auckland

Travelling reserves:
Lyric Faleafaga - Wellington
Tayla Reti* - Manawatu

Black Ferns Sevens Head Coach Allan Bunting said the team was excited about the opportunity for different players to step up with some of the more experienced players not available.    

“Many of our experienced players are moving over to the Black Ferns for the next couple of months so it has given us the opportunity to look a bit deeper into our talent pool. It’s created opportunities for players with less game time over the World Series to step up for the last two tournaments. 

“While many of these players have been in our wider team environment this year, injury or other factors have ruled them out of selection. So our training camp this week has been about whanaungatanga. We’ve welcomed the new players and given the team clarity, confidence and courage to express themselves and front every challenge. 

“This is also an opportunity for us to extend our leadership group, with Tyla Nathan-Wong stepping up from Assistant Captain to Captain with support from Ruby Tui and Niall Williams who have been doing an outstanding job in our leadership group. 
    
“We’re stoked for our players who’ve been selected for the Black Ferns for the upcoming International Women’s Rugby Series and are in contention for the Rugby World Cup. It’s a great opportunity for them to experience a pinnacle event, represent our country and compete for a World Cup. 

“They will play some physical close quarter rugby, learn new skills from quality coaches and will come back to Sevens better from it. They will have an appreciation of the abundance of space that we have in Sevens, but understand the skill set and energy systems needed to maximise the space. 

“We’re well aware of the challenges we have ahead of us in our pool in Langford against England and USA. We will be taking it one game at a time. It is great to see the Netherlands back in the series for this leg, they always put up a physical well-rounded challenge and have really pushed us in the past, so we are focused on them for now.” 

Saturday 27 May 2017
5.52am Sunday 28 May NZT v Netherlands
8.36am Sunday 28 May NZT v USA
11.20am Sunday 28 May NZT v England

Sunday 28 May 2017
Finals Day will be the morning of Monday 29 May NZT

Information on World Rugby HSBC Langford Women’s World Sevens Series Tournament
http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/stage/1722