Caleb Clarke and Salesi Rayasi are expected to bring some added excitement to the All Blacks Sevens as they look for another series title when they take the field at the HSBC Sydney Sevens this weekend.
Their inclusion in the side mark the only changes to the team that are defending champions of the Australian tournament.
The team is;
1. Scott Curry – co-captain
2. Tim Mikkelson – co-captain
3. Salesi Rayasi
4. Etene Nanai-Seturo
5. Dylan Collier
6. Vilimoni Koroi
7. Sam Dickson
8. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black
9. Regan Ware
10. Kurt Baker
11. Caleb Clarke
12. Sione Molia
*Tone Ng Shiu is the 13th player.
All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw said the team has been able to refocus after what was an exciting result in Hamilton.
“The boys will reflect on last weekend with fond memories, but it isn’t hard to re-focus on the week ahead when you face Wales, Fiji and Kenya in pool play. We have trained and travelled well and are making sure we are getting the little things done well.”
Stand out performances from co-captains Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson were a highlight of the team’s efforts last weekend.
“You want to see your senior players playing really well and we got that last weekend. I thought they were both exceptional and their challenge is to back that up this weekend.”
Laidlaw said the introduction of Clarke and Rayasi was exciting for the team.
“Its great to be able to bring in fresh players, Salesi and Caleb are big athletes with real X factor, Salesi will play in the forwards and Caleb on the wing which gives us genuine power on either edge.”
A difficult pool assignment sees match ups against Wales, Fiji and an in-form Kenya, Laidlaw said this week has been about focusing on their own strengths.
“We’ve had a good look at our game and know we left a few opportunities out there last weekend but we don’t want to over-train or try to fix too much. We want to replicate the areas that were strong and just take one match at a time.”
The HSBC Sydney Sevens will run the same format as Hamilton, with no quarter-finals matches which means a strong pool play is imperative.
• The All Blacks Sevens are defending Sydney Sevens champions and have won the trans-tasman tournament on four occasions.
• The All Blacks Sevens sit first on the World Series points table, 15 points ahead of South Africa in second.
• The All Blacks Sevens currently lead the World Series for most points scored, with 468 and most tries scored with 74. Regan Ware is second equal for most tries scored, with 11.
• Co-captain Scott Curry has made the Dream Team in the opening three tournaments of the season.
• Ngarohi McGarvey-Black has been named Player of the Final in Cape Town and Hamilton.
Day One – Saturday 1 February
4.31pm v Wales
10.33pm v Fiji
Day Two – Sunday 2 February
3.41pm v Kenya
Watch the HSBC Sydney Sevens on Sky Sport
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 5-7 December, Dubai – RUNNERS UP
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 13-15 December, Cape Town – WINNERS
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 25-26 January, Hamilton – WINNERS
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 1-2 February, Sydney
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 29 February – 1 March, Los Angeles
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 7-8 March, Vancouver
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 3-5 April, Hong Kong
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 11-12 April, Singapore
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 23-24 May, London
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 30-31 May, Paris
2020 Tokyo Olympics, 27-29 July, Tokyo