New Zealand Women's Sevens Coach Sean Horan has named the pair in his squad of 12 to play rounds two and three of the World Series in Atlanta, USA and Sao Paulo, Brazil as the women seek to retain their World Series title.
The squad also features the return of speedster and 2013 player of the IRB World Cup Portia Woodman who has not played since last year’s World Cup Final in Moscow, and 2014 National Sevens player of the tournament Hazel Tubic.
“Our preparation in Wellington this week has been ideal. We know from the National Sevens competition in Rotorua this year that the players have kept themselves in outstanding nick over the summer and there was plenty of competition for a place in the team.
“The girls have trained well, and it has been great being in Wellington to soak up some of the Wellington Sevens fever. The players are enjoying the festival atmosphere around this event.
“This is exciting for Michaela and Gayle who are both very familiar with our team culture and environment. This is a logical next step for two very talented young players.
“Portia has been itching to get back into the game and has maintained her fitness despite a back injury.
“I am feeling very happy that we are taking away some great experience and excellent young and emerging talent.”
“We are also hugely excited about competing in Brazil for the first time. It’s a great opportunity for us to have a look at the country that will host the 2016 Olympics,” Horan said.
The team for Atlanta and Sao Paulo tournaments:
Linda Itunu (Auckland)
Carla Hohepa (Auckland)
Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)
Alexis Tapsell (Canterbury)
Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)
Tyla Nathan Wong (Auckland)
Micheala Blyde (Taranaki)
Huriana Manuel (Auckland)
Selica Winiata (Manawatu)
Portia Woodman (Auckland)
Kayla McAlister (Auckland)
Unavailable for selection to due to injury/illness are:
Ruby Tui (knee)
Kelly Brazier (hip)
Vaine Grieg (knee)
Honey Hireme (illness)
IRB Womens’ Sevens World Series
2013/2014 Ladderboard: Australia (20), New Zealand (18), Russia (16), Canada (14), England (12), Spain (10)
Dubai, UAE: 28, 29 November 2013 (Won by Australia)
Atlanta, USA: 15, 16 February 2014
Sao Paulo, Brazil: 21, 22 February 2014
Guangzhou, China: 5, 6 April 2014
Amsterdam, Netherlands: 16, 17 May 2014
Snapshot – New Zealand Women’s Sevens
June 2013 – crowned World Champions of Sevens at Moscow World Cup, defeating Canada 29-12 in final
May 2013 – winner of inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series
New Zealand players awarded women’s sevens top honours:
Kayla McAlister – IRB Player of the Year 2013
Portia Woodman – IRB Player of the 2013 World Cup
Around 1000 women from many different sports trialled for the New Zealand Women’s Seven’s Olympic campaign in 2012
Women’s sevens is a fast growing sport in New Zealand – 10 teams competed in the recent National Sevens tournament