Mikkelson to captain All Blacks Sevens
Tim Mikkelson will captain the All Blacks Sevens team in the final two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series after DJ Forbes was ruled out of the tournaments in Glasgow and London by a foot injury suffered in Tokyo last month.
Coach Gordon Tietjens hopes to have Forbes available for Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow at the end of June, but is boosted by the return of IRB Sevens Player of the Year 2012 Tomasi Cama, Kurt Baker and Scott Curry from injury.
Cama missed the last two rounds in Hong and Tokyo, while Baker last played in New Zealand’s home tournament in February and Curry has not been involved in the 2012/13 Series so far.
The only new cap in the squad is 20-year-old Pita Ahki, a member of the Blues wider training group for Super Rugby who represented New Zealand at the IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa last year.
New Zealand are within touching distance of an 11th Series title, going into the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens at Scotstoun Stadium next weekend with a 32-point lead over second placed South Africa.
“We have played consistently well all season despite a number of injury setbacks so it shows the depth we now have in the wider squad,” said Tietjens.
“It’s really great to have Junior back fighting fit and Scott Curry’s return also strengthens the experience in the team.
“Pita Ahki is an exciting young prospect and he impressed in training this week so deserves the opportunity.
“We are determined to end the season on a high note so we are looking for top performances in Glasgow and London which will hopefully seal the Series for us.
“While it’s disappointing not to have DJ on the team, we’re hoping this gives him plenty of time to come right for Moscow for the Rugby World Cup in late June. That’s a key event for us in terms of our build-up for Rio in 2016.
“Tim did a great job stepping up to the captain’s role in Tokyo and certainly deserves the honour of leading the team again.”
The All Blacks Sevens will play hosts Scotland, England and Portugal in Pool B in Glasgow.
All Blacks Sevens squad
Pita Ahki, Kurt Baker, Tomasi Cama, Scott Curry, Gillies Kaka, Rocky Khan, Ben Lam, Tim Mikkelson (captain), Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers, Trinity Spooner-Neera, Belgium Tuatagaloa.