Seven stars to watch in Wellington

(IRB.COM) Thursday 6 February 2014
 Seven stars to watch in Wellington
Scott Curry is enjoying his best season for the All Blacks Sevens

Ahead of the fifth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in New Zealand we have picked seven players we think will bring their A game to the Westpac Stadium this weekend.

Two of the seven were named in the USA Sevens Dream Team, namely forwards Scott Curry and Chris Dry, while three of the players all return from injury much to the advantage of their countries. 

At each of the nine rounds this season we are giving fans the chance to vote on who they think deserves to be named in the Dream Team and all fans have to do is use #7sDreamTeam on Twitter to vote for their seven this weekend. Could any of these players be in it come the end of the Wellington Sevens? 

Scott Curry, New Zealand: Now one of the first names on Gordon Tietjens' team sheet Curry has come back from injury stronger than ever this season and has been firing on all cylinders up front for the reigning Series champions. Curry is having his best season by a country mile, and is New Zealand's fourth highest try scorer for the season with 11, behind only Tim Mikkelson, Ambrose Curtis and Joe Webber. With two nominations in four rounds for the Dream Team, Curry may well be saving his finest tournament of the season for home soil. 

Ed Jenkins, Australia: Having missed the USA Sevens through injury Jenkins returns to captain the Australia Sevens side this weekend. A member of the Dream Team in the first round on Australia's Gold Coast, Jenkins will slot straight back into the forward trio. With Cameron Clark the leading points scorer in Las Vegas and orchestrating the likes of Shannon Walker, Jenkins' return could give Mick O'Connor's side the boost they'll need to get out of a tough pool. 

Chris Dry, South Africa: Another player with two nominations in the Dream Team this season, Chris Dry has been instrumental in both of South Africa's Cup wins this season as his side sit top of the standings by one point. Three tries in USA, including an all-important effort in the semi final victory against Samoa, demonstrates how Dry backs up his power, impeccable defence and stamina with an ability to score tries when it matters. Neil Powell's side have won 36 turnovers this season and lost just 15, giving them a differential of +21 and Dry, along with Kyle Brown and Frankie Horne is an integral part of that. 

Tom Mitchell, England: The leading points scorer this season, England's newest captain under Simon Amor has scored no fewer than 156 points and sits 40 points ahead of All Blacks Sevens Tomasi Cama. 14 tries for the season, countless conversions and a hatful of assists Mitchell is the consistent presence in England's team and will be key to England's title defence at the Westpac Stadium.

Nathan Hirayama, Canada: Hirayama returns to a Canada side that finished a best-ever third at the USA Sevens having injured himself in the season opener on Australia's Gold Coast. The Canadian scored 241 points last season and was one of the finest and most consistent performers across the year and will be hoping to pick up where he left off this weekend. 

Ben Lam, New Zealand: 22 tries last season, Lam is set to make his first start of the season on home soil. The big powerful Lam will be relishing the opportunity to help his side regain the lead at the top of the standings, and with Tomasi Cama also returning to the side, Lam will see enough of the ball that defenders will already be wondering how to stop the Kiwi. 

Diego Palma, Argentina: Often underrated, Argentina's Palma has been reinvigorated under Santiago Gomez Cora, scoring no fewer than 15 tries for the season, including four in Las Vegas. Quick, and deceptively evasive, the Argentinean could enjoy playing on a wider pitch following the narrow Sam Boyd Stadium where he will be able to make more of his speed. Palma and his teammates will fancy their chances of making their fourth successive Cup quarter final with pool matches against Scotland, USA and Canada. 

Honourable mentions: 

Mat Turner has scored 17 tries at the Westpac and enjoys coming to New Zealand to play so will be a welcome addition back into the defending champions' squad.

Werner Kok is South Africa's super sub, knocking on the door of a starting berth. Kok also seems to save his best for the big matches, scoring in South Africa's Cup final against New Zealand in Las Vegas.

Phil Mack seems to be firing on all cylinders again and Canada are reaping the benefits. Having made the Dream Team in Las Vegas, Mack has been impressing in training this week so expect big things with the return of Sean Duke in the side too.

Wellington, New Zealand

Round 4
6-7 February 2015
Venue: Westpac Stadium
City: Wellington
Capacity: 36,000

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
Pool D
  • South Africa's Philip Snyman is tackled by NZ
  • Sherwin Stowers
  • NZ Sevens - Gillies Kaka