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New faces in Mount-based Rugby Sevens squads

The Black Ferns Sevens training at Blake Park last year prior to their Olympic Gold medal win in Tokyo. Photo. John Borren.

New Zealand’s Rugby Sevens programme, based in Mount Maunganui, is embarking on a new season with both the Olympic-winning Black Ferns Sevens and silver medalist All Blacks Sevens setting their sights on Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens success later this year.

Both camps have added fresh faces to their rosters but will miss the upcoming Spanish leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series due to border concerns.

The Black Ferns Sevens have added recent school leavers Jorja Miller and Kelsey Teneti to the playing squad whilst the All Blacks Sevens have included five new faces, including Tauranga’s own Leroy Carter.

“Leroy is almost a professional without having been a professional,” says All Blacks Sevens head coach Clark Laidlaw.

“He’s the fittest in the squad, he’s got great appetite for hard work and has been looking for a full-time opportunity so we’ve given him that; he doesn’t have to be on the tools in the morning anymore!

“He could play tomorrow if he had to, so we’re excited to see him get a run.”

Carter is joined by fellow newbies Che Clark, Rhodes Featherstone, Roderick Solo and Caleb Tangitau.

Another Bay of Plenty star, Scott Curry, has been given clearance to play in Japan. He will return to the Sevens set-up in time for July’s Commonwealth Games in England and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa in September.

“Scott has done a lot for this team and he’s one of the best players in the world, so for him to travel to Japan with his family and experience a new lifestyle is exciting and great it's for us that is he coming back and putting his hand up for two pinnacle events,” says Laidlaw.

Cory Sweeney will head up the Black Ferns Sevens programme, with former co-coach Allan Bunting now heading up Chiefs Manawa. Sweeney is joined by assistant coaches Stu Ross and Ed Cocker and skills coach/performance analyst Crystal Kaua.

“We started the year with sunrise up the top of Mt Maunganui,” says Sweeney.

“It was really exciting to have everyone in including our new players and management, the energy was great and everything is ready for an amazing 2022.”

He is delighted with the addition of Christchurch Girls’ High School graduate Miller and former Hamilton Girls’ High School student Teneti.

“They have been awesome,” says Sweeney.

“We had both players in for a few weeks before Christmas, just to see how they would fit in the environment, and they brought an unreal energy and eagerness to learn.

“It’s unbelievable that they have only just finished Year 13 at school, we saw in FPC that their potential is huge so we are looking forward to seeing what impact they can have in the sevens space.”

Both squads will not however be taking part in the Spanish leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series later this month due to Covid-19 border restrictions in New Zealand.

“It’s frustrating not being able to travel at the moment but that is out of our control,” says Laidlaw.

“What we can control is what we do here each day, the players have come back in great spirits and now it’s time to crack on, we’ll be ready for whenever the borders open and we can travel.”

New Zealand Rugby is currently investigating domestic tournament options for the team while the borders remain closed.

The 2022 Black Ferns Sevens squad is;
 

Player

Provincial Union

Shakira Baker

Bay of Plenty

Micheala Blyde

Bay of Plenty

Kelly Brazier

Bay of Plenty

Gayle Broughton

Taranaki

Theresa Fitzpatrick

Auckland

Stacey Fluhler

Waikato

Sarah Hirini

Manawatu

Jaz Hotham

Waikato

Shiray Kaka

Waikato

Jorja Miller

Canterbury

Tyla Nathan Wong

Northland

Manaia Nuku

Bay of Plenty

Risi Pouri-Lane

Bay of Plenty

Alena Saili

Bay of Plenty

Terina Te Tamaki

Waikato

Kelsey Teneti

Waikato

Ruby Tui

Counties Manukau

Niall Williams

Auckland

Tenika Willison

Waikato

Portia Woodman

Northland

The 2022 All Blacks Sevens squad is;
 

Player

Provincial Union

Kurt Baker

Hawke's Bay

Leroy Carter

Bay of Plenty

Che Clark

Auckland

Dylan Collier

Waikato

Scott Curry

Bay of Plenty

Sam Dickson

Canterbury

Rhodes Featherstone

Taranaki

Trael Joass

Bay of Plenty

Andrew Knewstubb

Horowhenua Kapiti

Moses Leo

North Harbour

Ngarohi McGarvey Black

East Coast

Tim Mikkelson

Waikato

Sione Molia

Counties Manukau

Tone Ng Shiu

Auckland

Amanaki Nicole

Southland

Akuila Rokolisoa

Counties Manukau

Brady Rush

Northland

Roderick Solo

Wellington

Caleb Tangitau

Auckland

Kitiona Vai

Auckland

Regan Ware

Tasman

Joe Webber

Bay of Plenty

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