In the first of a series from players and coaches, we have a look at Tomasi Cama’s all time greatest All Blacks Sevens line up.
Current Assistant Coach of the team, Cama played 61 tournaments in the black jersey and is the All Blacks Sevens all-time leading point scorer.
With 297 players on the All Blacks Sevens roll of honour, here are Cama’s picks for the top team.
Cama said he wanted to pick players that would make the opposition nervous but make their teammates excited.
“I thought about our team vision; being inspired by what you hear, see and feel. So, players that I heard about when I was younger growing up in Fiji, players that I watched and then when I played alongside them, I could feel that they were among the best.
“I thought about what they brought to the table as a player, their commitment to the team, game awareness, leadership and their individual strengths,” said Cama.
DJ Forbes #175 - prop
The long serving All Blacks Sevens captain, Forbes debuted in 2006 and played 89 World Series tournament for the team. He won six World Series, a Commonwealth Games gold and silver medal and was World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in 2008.
“DJ was a great leader, he really led through his actions and his dedication and commitment to sevens was huge. DJ was a tough player, great at the physical stuff, which was one of his strengths, but he could also run all day, he scored a lot of tries.”
Eric Rush #40 – hooker
An international career that spanned an astounding 16 years, Rush debuted in 1988 and played more than 60 tournaments. His highlights include two Commonwealth Games gold medals and a Rugby World Cup Sevens title.
“I never played with Rushy but I grew up watching him when I was in Fiji. When you think of sevens, you think of him. He was competitive, never backed off and you could see him make decisions on the field and just make things happen.”
Jonah Lomu #63 - prop
Jonah Lomu made his All Blacks Sevens debut in Hong Kong in 1994 and played in the side on and off over eight years. He was a member of the 1998 Commonwealth Games winning side and the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens winning side.
“There isn’t much explanation needed when it comes to Jonah, you know what he does with the ball in hand with his power, speed and strength. He’s an easy selection, he would have inspired a lot of rugby players around the world.”
Amasio Valence #97 – playmaker
Amasio Valence holds a special place in All Blacks Sevens history, as the only player to have won three Commonwealth Games gold medals. He sits just outside the top 20 all-time point scorers in World Series history. He played 47 tournaments, scoring 1124 points in the black jersey on the way to six series titles.
“Like Jonah and Rushy, I remember watching Amasio when I was in Fiji and then had the honour of playing alongside him. I learnt a lot from him, he was the brain of the team, he knew how to drive the game and was such a competitive player.”
Tim Mikkelson #190 – first receiver
Current co-captain of the All Blacks Sevens, Mikkelson became the most capped player in the team’s history earlier this year. Mikkelson has two Commonwealth Games gold medals and a silver, two Rugby World Cup Sevens titles and a World Rugby Player of the Year accolade to his name.
“You can’t overlook Timmy. You might think he’s not as strong or fast as other players but because of his commitment and work ethic, he is up there and among the best – he outworks talented players. I’ve put him at first receiver because of his fitness, he can run all day and he is quick for a big man! People will look at the stats and see the amount of tournaments he’s played or tries he has scored but I am lucky enough to see how hard he trains and that is why he plays the way he does and has done so for such a long time. ”
Christian Cullen #70 – midfield
Another Commonwealth Games Gold medallist, Cullen made his sevens debut in the mid-1990s and at the 1996 Hong Kong Sevens scored a staggering 18 tries across the tournament. While Cullen concentrated on 15s, he played several tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens between 1995 and 2000.
“I remember watching Cully play in Hong Kong, he scored 18 tries which is unheard of. His speed and footwork are amazing, but he was also a strong defender. I was a big fan of his when I was growing up and think he had a big impact on the game.
Karl Te Nana #81 – wing
A name synonymous with the All Blacks Sevens, Te Nana captained the All Blacks Sevens side and earned a Commonwealth Games Gold and Rugby World Cup Sevens title in his time. He is one of 11 players to have scored more than 100 tries for the team.
“He captained the side to win the World Cup in Argentina, and I was tossing up between a couple of wingers but KT had it all. He was so competitive, played for a long time, had good speed and an understanding of the game in terms of running lines and support play.”
With so many good players to pick from, Cama also selected a bench which included Tafai Ioasa, Craig de Goldi, Orene Ai’I, Steven Yates and Frank Halai.