Coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney have made two changes to the side that won the Dubai crown last weekend.
The Black Ferns Sevens team is (*denotes debut);
1. Ruby Tui
2. Risaleaana Pouri-Lane
3. Stacey Waaka
4. Niall Williams
5. Huia Harding
6. Mahina Paul*
7. Tyla Nathan-Wong – captain
8. Kelly Brazier
9. Gayle Broughton
10. Theresa Fitzpatrick
11. Shiray Kaka
12. Alena Saili
13. Tenika Willison (travelling reserve)
Experienced winger Shakira Baker has returned to New Zealand with a knee injury which makes way for Bay of Plenty teen Mahina Paul to make her Black Ferns Sevens debut. The other change sees Risaleaana Pouri-Lane come into the playing 12 in place of Tenika Willison.
The tournament is the first back to back series event for the Black Ferns Sevens which has meant a different week of preparation.
“It has been a different week for us, first and foremost the focus has been around recovery and doing that well. We aligned with the men to learn from them around how they prepare and making sure we are physically in a place where we can perform again this weekend,” said Co-Coach Cory Sweeney.
The two changes will see more players exposed to international sevens, Sweeney said Mahina Paul is an exciting young talent.
“Mahina has had limited preparation, only arriving in South Africa a few days ago but she has worked hard and is chomping at the bit for her opportunity. Bringing Risi into the playing 12 is another chance for us to build depth in the squad by giving her game time.”
The Black Ferns Sevens are excited about playing at the Cape Town Sevens for the first time and know to expect a big, vocal crowd.
“The team is excited about the atmosphere and passion that the South African people bring to the tournament. This is another opportunity for this team to inspire women around the world and they can't wait for it,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney, who along with Co-Coach Allan Bunting, was named New Zealand Coach of the Year at last night’s ASB Rugby Awards as well as the Black Ferns Sevens team picking up the Team of the Year for the second year in a row.
“It was an amazing night for the team and great recognition of the amazing people we have in this programme that are doing what they love to do on a daily basis,” said Sweeney.
BF7s editorial notes
- This is the first Women’s Sevens Series event in Cape Town
- The Black Ferns Sevens lead the Series for most points (367) and tries (59) scored.
- The Black Ferns Sevens sit first equal on the World Series standings after two events with 36 points alongside USA.
- Stacey Waaka has been named in the HSBC Dream Team at the opening two tournaments. She currently leads the DHL Performance Tracker for Impact Player, is the top try scorer (15), has the most clean breaks (19) and second highest point scorer (75).
- Ruby Tui (who last month won the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year) is the Series’ leading tackler with 34.
- Tonight is the ASB Rugby Awards; Tyla Nathan-Wong, Kelly Brazier and Sarah Hirini are nominated for Women's Sevens Player of the Year. Hirini is also nominated for the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year. Coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney are nominees for Coach of the Year while the team is in the running to defend the Team of the Year crown.
BF7s matches (all times listed in NZT)
Saturday 14 December
2.50am v South Africa
9.35pm v Fiji
Sunday 15 December
3.25am v Russia
Watch the HSBC Cape Town Sevens on Sky Sports 1
Black Ferns Sevens 2019/2020 schedule
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 5-6 October, Glendale - THIRD PLACE
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 5-7 December, Dubai - WINNERS
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 13-15 December, Cape Town
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 25-26 January, Hamilton
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 1-2 February, Sydney
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 3-5 April, Hong Kong
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 2-3 May, Langford
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 30-31 May, Paris
2020 Tokyo Olympics, 30 July – 1 August, Tokyo