The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads set to compete for the Rugby World Cup Sevens title in South Africa early next month have been named today.
Both teams are defending back-to-back champions and depart for Cape Town today, the men fresh from victory at the Los Angeles Sevens in USA, and the women from their training base in Tauranga.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens is played in a knockout format, with both teams just playing one must-win match in a bid to advance to the quarter-finals. A total of 24 men’s teams and 16 women's teams will take the field at Cape Town Stadium.
New Zealand Rugby High Performance Manager Mike Anthony wished the team’s luck.
“Both teams have a proud history at Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments and will both have been targeting this event in their calendars.
“Playing in the cauldron of 50,000 South African fans will be a momentous occasion and we look forward to seeing them represent themselves, their families and New Zealand with pride.”
All Blacks Sevens team (in brackets denotes age, provincial union, caps)
Kurt Baker (33, Hawke’s Bay, 50)
Dylan Colllier (31, (Waikato, 46)
Scott Curry (34, Bay of Plenty, 60)
Sam Dickson (32, Canterbury, 63) – co-captain
Moses Leo (25, North Harbour, 4)
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (26, Ngati Porou East Coast, 18)
Sione Molia (28, Counties Manukau, 44) – co-captain
Tone Ng Shiu (28, Tasman, 32)
Amanaki Nicole (30, Southland, 12)
Lewis Ormond (28, Taranaki, 13)
Akuila Rokolisoa (28, Counties Manukau, 19)
Brady Rush (23, Northland, 4)
Caleb Tangitau (19, Auckland, 6)
Regan Ware (28, Tasman, 46)
Unavailable due to injury: Tim Mikkelson, Rhodes Featherstone, Kitiona Vai, Joe Webber, Leroy Carter, Roderick Solo, Che Clark, Andrew Knewstubb
On their way to victory at the Los Angeles Sevens over the weekend, the All Blacks Sevens lost four players to an already sizeable injury tally.
Coach Clark Laidlaw said while those players would have been likely selections in the World Cup squad, he is ultimately pleased with the makeup of the team.
“I guess the exciting part of the weekend just been was the emergence of some players that don’t always get a lot of game time. It tested our depth and showed if we apply ourselves the players we have are very capable.
“Winning like that builds belief. We had a tough pool but there were little moments that set the tone in terms of the resilience we want to show.”
Senior players including co-captain Sam Dickson, Scott Curry and Dylan Collier were rested for the USA tournament will add their experience to the World Cup campaign.
“They are three of our best and arguably some of the best forwards in the game at the moment. I think their energy will perk up the boys so it will be perfect bringing them in as the rest of the squad are recovering from the weekend.”
Laidlaw said the prospect of the unique format, played at the impressive Cape Town Stadium makes for an exciting two weeks ahead.
“The World Cup is unlike any other tournament. Only playing four games across three days; there is a lot of downtime where you could over-think things so getting that balance right is important.
“Some of our fondest memories are tournaments in South Africa, they have passionate fans if we come up against South Africa you won’t find a more hostile environment – we’re excited to get there.”
The All Blacks Sevens will open their campaign against the winner of the match between Scotland and Jamaica.
Black Ferns Sevens team (in brackets denotes age, provincial union, caps)
Michaela Blyde (26, Bay of Plenty, 35)
Kelly Brazier (32, Bay of Plenty, 40)
Stacey Fluhler (26, Bay of Plenty, 29)
Sarah Hirini (29, Manawatu, 49) - captain
Jazmin Felix-Hotham (22, Waikato, 4)
Shiray Kaka (27, Waikato, 17)
Jorja Miller (18, Canterbury, debut)
Risaleeana Pouri-Lane (22, Bay of Plenty, 9)
Alena Saili (23, Bay of Plenty, 22)
Niall Williams (34, Auckland, 31)
Tenika Willison (24, Waikato, 15)
Portia Woodman (31, Northland, 38)
Travelling reserves: Manaia Nuku and Mahina Paul
Unavailable due to injury: Tyla Nathan Wong, Shakira Baker, Tysha Ikenasio
The Black Ferns Sevens will celebrate two significant milestones at the Rugby World Cup Sevens with Canterbury teen Jorja Miller set to make her international debut while Captain Sarah Hirini will become the first player to reach the milestone of 50 tournaments for the side.
“The team is surrounded by some really good energy at the moment. We can all jump on board and be inspired if it's about the first tournament or the 50th tournament – it will be important for the players to express themselves and enjoy this moment,” said Coach Cory Sweeney.
Of debutant Jorja Miller, Sweeney said her debut was just a matter of time.
“We’ve watched Jorja since she was 15 years old and she’s been a stand out amongst her peers. We had internal games last week and there was no question, she stood up and really earned her selection.”
Preparation for the World Cup has been solid for the team as they will look to improve on their bronze medal showing from the Commonwealth Games.
“Its fair to say that the group was disappointed, but we were proud of how they bounced back to win the bronze medal. We are determined to reach our potential, so the last three weeks have been awesome and we are ready to go to the World Cup and be as strong as we possibly can.
“We know what Cape Town is like, the environment is unreal and we are excited to get there,” said Sweeney.
The Black Ferns Sevens will play Colombia in their opening match.
- Both All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens will be defending their RWC7s titles won in San Fransisco in 2018 and Russia in 2013.
- The All Blacks Sevens also won the RWC7s title in 2001.
- Kurt Baker, Kelly Brazier, Sarah Hirini and Portia Woodman will be playing in their third RWC7s tournament. 10 players across the two squads will be running out at their second RWC7s.
Schedule (matches to be broadcast on Spark Sport)
Saturday 10 September (NZT)
2.01am All Blacks Sevens v winner of Scotland v Jamaica
3.37am Black Ferns Sevens v Colombia
Remaining fixtures will be determined on the outcome of the first matches.
See full schedule here