Tietjens names NZ Sevens side for Wellington
New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has named his side for the NZI Sevens in Wellington this weekend, with experienced Bay of Plenty forward Solomon King returning to the fray.
King is one of Tietjens' longest-serving players but has been dogged by injury in recent times. His return to the forward pack is a timely boost as New Zealand's newlook squad prepares for the unique atmosphere and pressures of its home event at the Westpac Stadium.
Five members of Tietjens' gold medal-winning 2010 Commonwealth Games side are named in the team - Toby Arnold, Tomasi Cama, DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson and Lote Raikabula - and Forbes retains the captaincy.
Counties Manukau’s David Raikuna is the one certain debutant named, while a second newcomer, Waikato’s Rory Grice, is bracketed with provincial union team-mate Declan O’Donnell and will make his Sevens debut if O’Donnell fails to recover from an ankle injury. A decision on O'Donnell will be made following Wednesday’s training session.
The rest of the squad is made up of players with limited experience, but who have already laid down a marker in the Series this season, notably giant wing Frank Halai and the impressive Bryce Heem.
“The guys have trained very well over the last few days and we have been lucky enough to get in a couple of training games against Canada and a Wellington side which have helped with our preparations immensely,” said Tietjens, who also reported that selection had called for some tough calls this week.
“Understandably there is extra pressure on us this week but the players are well aware of this and are remaining focused on the tournament,” he added.
Having reached the Cup semi finals in Dubai and won the South African title in December, New Zealand currently lie second in the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Dubai champions England lead the early race for the overall title with 44 points, but the kiwis are only four points adrift leading into the home leg this weekend and the USA Sevens in Las Vegas next week.
This weekend in Wellington, New Zealand face pool matches on Friday against Argentina, Scotland and Papua New Guinea.
Inside Sevens - Heroes: New Zealand captain DJ Forbes
New Zealand Sevens team for NZI Sevens: Toby Arnold (Bay of Plenty), Tomasi Cama (Manawatu), Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty), DJ Forbes, captain (Counties Manukau), Frank Halai (Waikato), Bryce Heem (Auckland), Solomon King (Bay of Plenty), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Declan O’Donnell / Rory Grice (Waikato), Buxton Popoalii (Otago), Lote Raikubula (Manawatu), David Raikuna (Counties Manukau)