Selectors have announced a squad of 20 contracted players for 2017 for the Olympic Silver medal winning Black Ferns Sevens, made up of 18 fully-contracted players and two training contracts, leaving a further spot to filled later in the year.
The squad to contest the remainder of the 2016-2017 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series sees the addition of eight new contracted players into the Black Ferns Sevens environment.
The contracted squad is (* indicates a new contracted player):
• Sarah Goss (Captain) – Manawatu
• Shakira Baker – Waikato
• Michaela Blyde – Bay of Plenty
• Kelly Brazier – Bay of Plenty
• Gayle Broughton – Taranaki
• Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga – Manawatu*
• Lyric Faleafaga – Wellington (Training Contract)*
• Theresa Fitzpatrick – Auckland*
• Crystal Mayes – Manawatu (Training Contract)*
• Tyla Nathan-Wong – Auckland
• Cheyelle Robins-Reti – Waikato*
• Alena Saili – Otago*
• Terina Te Tamaki – Waikato
• Ruby Tui – Canterbury
• Stacey Waaka – Waikato
• Katarina Whata-Simpkins – Wellington
• Renee Wickliffe – Counties Manukau*
• Niall Williams – Auckland
• Tenika Willison – Waikato*
• Portia Woodman – Counties Manukau
Black Ferns Sevens Head Coach Allan Bunting said he was excited about the mix of talent in the team.
“There is a lot of potential in this team. The high level of performance at the National Sevens tournament on the weekend made selections very hard. The higher standard of coaching at Provincial Union level is really making our job difficult which is great, but we are lucky because they are delivering quality rugby players which will make coaching the squad easier.
“There is already a lot of experience in the squad, but it is youthful experience. Every player can go through to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and most of them could still be going for gold at the two games after that.
“One player, Lyric Faleafaga, is in her last year of school and Alena Saili has just finished school last year. It’s great to see amazing talent coming through at such a young age which is exciting for the future of the team. Now that sevens is an Olympic sport more teenage athletes are seeing it as a path to competing on the international stage at the highest level.
“When selecting the squad we were looking for a mix of play-maker ability in the middle and power, speed and skill on the outside. I’m very happy that we have real potential in all these positions and that we have gained some size, hieght and have speed throughout the squad.
“Because we have two training contracts that means we have a space for potential other training contracts and also we have left one full contract that we can fill later. We will be looking to see who comes through the Go For Gold programme, which is aimed at attracting new athletes into sevens rugby.
“The focus for the next couple of weeks, heading into Sydney, will be continuing on from what we started in Dubai which is building our foundations and bringing the new members up to speed on what we have learnt.”
The full Black Ferns Sevens squad will go into camp in Wellington from Monday January 23. There will be media opportunities during the week with the squad. The squad will be attending the Wellington Sevens tournament on Saturday January 28 before a travelling team of 14 will leave for the Sydney tournament on Sunday January 29.
HSBC 2016-2017 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series
Sydney, Australia: 3-4 February, 2017
Las Vegas, USA: 3-5 March 2017
Kitakyushu, Japan: 23-24 April, 2017
Langford, Canada: 27-28 April, 2017
Clermont-Ferrand, France: 24-25 June, 2017