Two days out from the HSBC New Zealand Sevens, All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw has named the 12 players set to don the black jersey in front of their home crowd in Hamilton.
The team is;
1. Scott Curry – co-captain
2. Tim Mikkelson – co-captain
3. Tone Ng Shiu
4. Etene Nanai-Seturo
5. Dylan Collier
6. Vilimoni Koroi
7. Sam Dickson
8. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black
9. Regan Ware
10. Kurt Baker
11. Joe Webber
12. Sione Molia
*Salesi Rayasi is the 13th player.
Coach Clark Laidlaw said a strong start to their season in Dubai and Cape Town has set the standard for this weekend.
“We were obviously really pleased to make two Finals. It felt like those Finals were another step up to what we have experienced in the past so it was pleasing that we could front.
“Coming into this week, it’s the most players we’ve had fit and healthy in the past three seasons so it’s one of the strongest groups of players we’ve had to pick from.”
Laidlaw commented that the truncated format, with no quarter-finals, means it’s important to perform from the outset.
“This format really sharpens your focus; we need to be ready to really front on day one instead of perhaps building into the tournament. Our attention is firmly set on the first two teams that we come up against on day one.”
The All Blacks Sevens will face Wales and USA on Saturday, before closing out pool play against Scotland on Sunday.
Laidlaw said the importance of playing at home is not lost on the team.
“We don’t take it for granted, we know not every team gets to play in front of a home crowd. I think everyone knows what an awesome stadium Waikato Stadium is, its great for rugby, has an amazing atmosphere and now its got a new pitch which is going to be fast and hard. We’re really excited about the opportunity to get out in front of our home fans again.”
• The All Blacks Sevens last won the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in 2016 and have won their home tournament on nine occasions.
• The All Blacks Sevens sit first equal on the World Series points table with South Africa.
• The All Blacks Sevens currently lead the World Series for most points scored, with 313 and most tries scored with 49.
• Co-captain Scott Curry has made the Dream Team in the opening two tournaments of the season, alongside fellow forward Tone Ng Shiu who was selected in the Dubai Dream Team. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black was named Player of the Final in Cape Town.
Day One – Saturday 25 January
2.31pm v Wales
8.33pm v USA
Day Two – Sunday 26 January
1.41pm v Scotland
Watch the HSBC New Zealand Sevens on Sky Sport