Injury-hit All Blacks Sevens squad named
Gordon Tietjens has named the All Blacks Sevens squad for rounds six and seven of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Tietjens said selecting the team was particularly difficult given injuries to several key players including Toby Arnold, Kurt Baker, Tomasi Cama and Scott Curry, and has named two debutants in Matt Faddes and Trinity Spooner-Neera.
“The injuries have opened the door to some new players and that is a great opportunity for them and certainly helps us build greater depth for the side which is good for the long term," said Tietjens.
“We want to do well in Hong Kong and Tokyo to cement our place at the top of the World Series table heading into the final legs in Glasgow and London, but as recent tournaments have shown tough competition is coming from all the teams we meet so we need to be on our game, every game.”
Tietjens said he would not be travelling with the team when it departs for Hong Kong on Sunday evening because of an ear infection which prevents him from flying.
“I need a little more time to come right so at this stage I am planning to arrive in Hong Kong next Thursday.”
Skills coach Damian Karauna will take over coaching duties and will be assisted by IRB Sevens Player of the Year and All Blacks Sevens veteran Tomasi Cama.
“Damian is very experienced in the game of sevens having played for the All Blacks Sevens over eight seasons. He knows the drills and tactics having been with us since late last year so I am sure the team will be well prepared.
“He will also be supported by Junior [Tomasi Cama] whose deep knowledge of the game will be a great help to Damian.”
New Zealand are currently 23 points ahead of South Africa in first place in the overall Series standings and face pool matches with Kenya, France and USA in Hong Kong.
All Blacks Sevens squad: Sam Dickson, Matt Faddes, DJ Forbes (captain), Gillies Kaka, Rocky Khan, Ben Lam, Luke Masirewa, Tim Mikkelson, Lote Raikabula, Trinity Spooner-Neera, Sherwin Stowers, Belgium Tuatagaloa
Series qualifying explained: Hong Kong & London
From the end of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series, promotion and relegation from core team status comes into effect, with a pre-qualifying competition in Hong Kong (round 6) and a final core team qualifier in London (round 9).
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will feature 28 teams and two competitions: In the first, the 15 current core teams and the winner of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, Hong Kong, will compete for the famous Hong Kong title and World Series points. In the second, 12 regional teams - two from each of the six IRB regions - will compete for four places at the core team qualifying final in London.
The Marriott London Sevens will feature 20 teams and two competitions: In the first, the top 12-ranked sides in the HSBC Sevens World Series after round 8, the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens, will compete for the London title and final World Series points. In the second, the 13th-, 14th- and 15th-ranked core teams after the Glasgow event will compete against the four qualifiers from Hong Kong and Asian champions Hong Kong for the three available core team places on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.