After successfully qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics and securing their fourth successive tournament title at the HSBC Vancouver Sevens, the Black Ferns Sevens return to Hong Kong for the first time since 2001, and it will be the first time since the inception of the women’s series the best female and male players in the world compete alongside one another at the HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
Black Ferns Sevens:
3. Stacey Waaka
6. Michaela Blyde
7. Tyla Nathan-Wong
8. Kelly Brazier
11. Portia Woodman-Wickliffe
12. Alena Saili
13. Jazmin Felix-Hotham
22. Shiray Kaka
33. Manaia Nuku
34. Sarah Hirini (C)
77. Risaleaana Pouri-Lane
83. Jorja Miller
Unavailable for selection: Mahina Paul and Theresa Fitzpatrick.
Black Ferns Head Coach Cory Sweeney said that the squad were wanting to drive for further consistency.
“It will be an exciting occasion for the game and the girls to be a part of. It will be the first time for the women to experience, perform and compete at the HSBC Hong Kong Sevens stage, which is viewed by many as the home of sevens and the ultimate arena to test yourselves.
For us we want to continue to grow our game and individual connections. Making sure we have adapted quickly to the new environment and things that challenge us during the week and across the tournament competition days,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney was excited for the return of Saili and Nuku to the team again.
“We are pleased to welcome both Alena and Manaia back into the team after injury lay off. Both have been training really well and we are looking forward to them having an immediate impact on the team,” finished Sweeney.
All Blacks Sevens Head Coach Clark Laidlaw has an abundance of young talent named within his team including three debutants. Rhodes Featherstone, Codemeru Vai and Xavier Tito-Harris will all don the All Blacks Sevens jersey for the first time this weekend.
Dylan Collier and Sione Molia have been named as co-captains for the side in the absence of All Blacks Sevens captain Sam Dickson.
All Blacks Sevens Team:
2. Brady Rush
4. Akuila Rokolisoa
5. Dylan Collier (C)
6. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black
9. Amanaki Nicole
12. Leroy Carter
24. Tepaea Cook-Savage
25. Codemeru Vai
27. Sione Molia (C)
33. Fehi Fineanganofo
35. Xavier Tito-Harris
86. Rhodes Featherstone
Unavailable for selection: Andrew Knewstubb, Moses Leo, Payton Spencer, Roderick Solo, Sam Dickson, Scott Curry, Tim Mikkelson and Tone Ng Shiu (injury). Joe Webber and Regan Ware (personal)
Laidlaw said that Olympic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics was at the forefront of the teams’ mind.
“Hong Kong will test the depth of squad. We have plenty of talent among our team and while we are missing our regulars, I know that these guys will take the opportunity they have been given to excel. As a squad we are still seeking Olympic qualification and there is a tight tussle among teams to achieve this. While this is at the forefront of our minds, we need to draw our focus into being consistent, connected and take it one game at a time.”
Laidlaw emphasised the talent each debutant will have to demonstrate when they take the field this weekend.
“Rhodes is a physical player and has plenty to offer our team. He has been a part of the All Blacks Sevens squad for more than a year now but has had a couple of false starts with injury, he is ready and eager to get out there this weekend.”
“Xavier’s just finished school and fitted into the squad really well. He presents great footwork and has a short passing game. He was in action last week playing for the champion Blues U20 side, so it has been whirlwind last few days.”
“Cody again played in the Super Rugby Pacific Under 20s and has joined the squad as an injury replacement for Andrew Knewstubb. He has played a lot of sevens and really gets the game,” finished Laidlaw.
HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Draw (dates/times listed in NZDT)
Friday 31 March
7.16pm: Black Ferns Sevens v Hong Kong China
7.40pm: All Blacks Sevens v Kenya
11.16pm: Black Ferns Sevens v Great Britain Sevens
Saturday 1 April
3.41pm: Black Ferns Sevens v Canada
4.04pm All Blacks Sevens v South Africa
8.49pm: All Blacks Sevens v Ireland
Sunday 2 April
All games with be covered live by Official Partner Sky Sport and streamed on Sky Sport Now and Sky Go.