Roderick Solo makes his mark on the Sevens stage

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In the 21-19 pool victory against Australia, the rookie scored an 80-metre try, bamboozling his opposite with swift footwork when New Zealand was down 14-19.

Moments later Solo made a scrambling tackle on speed merchant Trae Williams to deny the World Series title holders an almost certain winner.

In the final against Argentina, New Zealand appeared likely to defend their title when ahead 12-0. Solo scored a try over 30 metres, gliding effortlessly past a grasping defender.

However, the Pumas rallied and took the lead 14-12. Solo was almost the match-winner again. He busted down the left wing before nudging a deft kick forward for Brady Rush to pursue. Rush won the race to the loose possession but was unable to ground the ball precisely.

“To be honest all I had to do was catch the ball run.  I didn't think I’d get tackled but the cover defence was quicker than I was,” Solo reflected.

“I thought Brady had scored. It looked like it on the big screen. When we got back to the hotel and studied the footage up close it was a fair call.

“The support in Hamilton was amazing. The boys were gutted with the result, but that’s Sevens. Anyone can beat anyone.”

Solo has scored 10 tries in 12 games for New Zealand. He made his debut in Toulouse in May 2022 and has quickly established himself as an assured figure.

“I rang Clarky (coach Clark Laidlaw) at the end of 2021 and asked if I could train. Two weeks later I was offered a full-time contract.

“My debut was mostly from the bench which was good because I could see what was going on before I went on the field. 

"I went to the Commonwealth Games as a non-traveling reserve. Most people would be sad about that, but I was just happy to be in the environment learning and getting more confidence.

“I like to play second receiver from a scrum but in Hamilton, they put me on the wing. If I’ve got my hands on the ball in space, I can express myself.”

Mason Satuala Malagamaali'i is the coach of the Oriental Rongotai Premiers in Wellington and has had a long association with the Solo family.

“Roderick was always exceptional in junior grade. Parents Afasene and Anita are a couple of the most dedicated parents you'll ever see. They're extremely supportive and visible in every aspect of their kids’ lives,” Satuala Malagamaali'i said.

“Older brother Frederick is a qualified builder and a keen fisherman. Older sister Priscilla works for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and volunteers at the stadium for rugby match management. His younger sister Bernadine is studying while youngest brother Cedrick is following closely in Roderick’s footsteps.”

Roderick attended Scots College in Wellington and played 52 matches for the First XV. In 2019 he helped Scots' win the Wellington Premiership and made the New Zealand Secondary Schools.’ Later that year he was named MVP at the Red Bull Ignite 7s which earned him a spot at an All Blacks Sevens training camp in 2020.

The World Series moves to Sydney this weekend. New Zealand hasn’t won a tournament yet but heads the championship standings by two points ahead of the USA. Only 11 points separate the top seven teams after four events. Following Sydney, there are tournaments in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, Toulouse, and London.

In Sydney, New Zealand is grouped with Kenya (13th), Uruguay (11th), and South Africa (4th). 

New Zealand has won the Sydney Sevens four times with the most memorable victory in 2016 when All Black Rieko Ioane scored a hat-trick in a 27-24 Cup final win against Australia.

“The boys are feeling good about Sydney. We've only got a couple of injuries. If we stick to our game plan and play what’s in front of us we’ll go well,” Solo said.

Solo identified Jerry Tuwai (Fiji) and Marcos Moneta (Argentina) as his toughest opponents. 


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